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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Lawmakers push for welfare of BPO workers
15 October 2018 11:24:31 AM

The House Committee on Labor and Employment chaired by Rep. Randolph Ting (3rd District, Cagayan), prior to the congressional adjournment, deliberated on measures which provide for the welfare and protection of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) workers.

Among the bills tackled by the Committee during the meeting was House Bill No. 2225 entitled “An Act Increasing the Night Shift Premium Pay in Business Process Outsourcing Firms in the Philippines,” authored by Rep. Zajid Mangundadatu (2nd District, Maguindanao)

Otherwise known as “Additional Pay for Business Process Outsourcing Employees Act,” the bill seeks to increase the mandated additional pay for work done in graveyard shifts from 10 percent to 25 percent of the regular rate per hour.

The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, dubbed as the “sunshine industry” of the country, emerged at the top of the call center industry. Accordingly, Filipinos are preferred by US companies because of low labor costs and their familiarity with the language.

In 2016, the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) projected a $20 billion revenue. In 2017, an estimated 1.5 million new jobs were projected courtesy of the industry.

Executive Director Nicki Agcaoili of IBPAP informed the committee that the BPO industry of the Philippines is providing direct employment to 1.3 million Filipinos and 3.2 million indirect jobs.

Agcaoili said the BPO industry is over-all appreciative of all the measures which seek to protect the rights and welfare of its employees. He said, however, that they still have to take into consideration the take of the other sector members. “We had to factor in competition like India and China. Kasalukuyan, ang Pilipinas lang ang nag-ooffer ng night differential,” he added.

Agcaoili said that majority of the clients of the BPO industry are from North America but they also support the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa), and the Asia-Pacific region. The bulk of the workers in the BPO industry cater to clients from North America, thus, 65 percent to 70 percent are working in the mid or night shift.

Ting asked Agcaoili, as the representative of the BPO industry, to explain the current practice in the industry. “The current practice is we pay 10 percent per hour if a call center agent’s shift falls 10 pm – 6 am. 10 percent of their hourly rate,” Agcaoili answered.

“Yung starting salary ng ating BPO workers, is it within the minimum wage?” Ting asked. Agcaoili replied that as compared to the other industries, the starting pay for an entry level staff in the BPO industry is significantly higher.

Agcaoili said that workers usually last six to eight years in the industry. “On the average, mabilis rin ang career progression sa industry. From agent, they can progress to a team leader and then as supervisor manager,” Agcaoili added.

Dr. Valeriano Timbang of the Department of Health (DOH) said that the notable cause of mortality is cardiovascular disease. Working in a BPO company, especially those with a night shift, would have an effect on body physiology. This could affect behaviors in eating and sleeping, which could all lead to cardiovascular disease, he said.

Working night shifts may also take a toll on the health of the workers with older age, he said. Moreover, Timbang said they are particularly concerned with female workers who are pregnant. “We are concerned with the health of the mother and the child,” he said.

Timbang also said that working in night shifts is stressful.

Rep. Mark Go (Lone District, Baguio City) said BPO companies should look after the welfare of its hard working employees. “Companies should take care of their employees because they are the very reason why they [companies] are successful,” said Go.

Others present in the meeting were Reps. Peter Unabia (1st District, Misamis Oriental), Arlene Brosas (Party-list, GABRIELA), and Henry Ong (2nd District, Leyte). | Novel Paller