Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Youth party-list rep refiles bill protecting BPO workers

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon has refiled House Bill 1180 or the ?BPO Workers? Welfare and Protection Act of 2013,? which seeks to promote and protect the rights of Filipinos working in business process outsourcing (BPO) companies across the country.

On Monday, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago also filed a similar bill in the Senate.

The BPO Workers? Welfare and Protection Bill was first filed in the 14th Congress by former Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino as a result of numerous feedback from BPO managers, call center agents, and even mothers of BPO workers, all expressing concern with the working conditions in many of the companies under this industry.

Unable to muster support in the 14th Congress, Palatino refiled the bill in the 15th Congress, but it was unable to hurdle past the committee level.

?With the growing number of Filipinos ? mostly from the youth sector ? working in BPO companies, it is but right for Kabataan Partylist to refile this important piece of legislation, which reasserts the prescribed labor standards set forth in the Labor Code and institutionalize additional benefits that would hopefully address specific work-related problems and issues peculiar to the nature of BPO work,? Ridon said.

The Philippines has the second biggest BPO) industry in the world according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). It brought in an estimated revenue of $13 billion and employed at least 700,000 workers in 2012. In 2013, the BPO industry is forecasted to generate $15 billion gross revenues and employ 1 million workers.

?Among the problems we want to address in this bill is the way BPO companies devise mechanisms to prevent many of their employees from becoming regular employees despite having been employed as probationary workers or trainees for more than six months,? Ridon said.

Salient proposals in HB 1180 include:

? Regularization of all BPO workers upon the sixth month of employment as trainee or apprentice, or upon the completion of a maximum probationary training period of six months.

? Standardized restroom breaks not shorter than five minutes each, with intervals of two hours during their working hours.

? Entitlement to medical benefits upon entry in the BPO company and not merely upon regularization.

? Right to self-association, to engage in collective bargaining, and to participate in democratic exercises

In the BPO industry study conducted by ILO in 2010, it was said that while the BPO industry provide relatively ?good? quality jobs, ?key changes in the BPO industry policies and practices? need to be pushed to improve work conditions.

The study reported that 48 percent of BPO workers suffer from insomnia while 54 percent from fatigue. Of which, 45.6 percent cited that harassment from irate clients are among the causes of work-related stress among workers, 41 percent from excessive and tedious workload, 37.4 percent from performance demands, 33.7 percent from monotony and 33.4 percent from regular night work.

The ILO study also noted high workforce attrition or staff turnover rates which need to be addressed by ?redesigning? work processes, giving BPO workers autonomy and discretion.

?As we file this bill for the third time, we are confident that it will muster the support, not only of the agents but of call center owners and managements as well. There is no reason for owners and managers to oppose this measure. Improving the agents? welfare will also mean greater productivity and lower workforce attrition rate for them,? Ridon explained.

?This industry grants apparent and immediate employment opportunities to many of our young people. It is only just that we ensure the rights and welfare of those who have chosen to rely on this ?sunshine industry,?? he concluded.

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