Workers in the Philippines' business process outsourcing (BPO) industry are expected to return to work on April 1, despite industry calls to extend remote work arrangements.
The Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement on Wednesday that the inter-agency Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) upheld Resolution No. 19-21, which allows IT-BPM firms in economic zones to implement work-from-home (WFH) arrangements for 90% of their workforce only until March 31, 2022.
“The WFH arrangement is only a time-bound temporary measure adopted during the surge of the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the increasing vaccination rate of Filipinos nationwide, we can now undertake safe measures for physical reporting of employees, including those working in the IT-BPM firms operating within ecozones and freeports,” Finance Secretary and FIRB Chairman Carlos Dominguez III said during the recent FIRB meeting.
Returning employees to the office would create more opportunities and pave the way for the recovery of local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that rely on IT-BPM employees for a living, Carlos added.
Firms located in economic zones that do not follow the FIRB's rules are not eligible for fiscal incentives such as income tax holidays and a 5% tax on gross income earned.
According to the DOF, the FIRB also denied the request to lift the moratorium on ecozone development in Metro Manila.