MANILA - Sen. Francis Tolentino on Monday filed a bill seeking to grant a monthly allowance worth at least P1,000 for all home-based workers to help them offset additional expenses from working at home.
Under Senate Bill No. 1684, "all employees working under a telecommuting program shall be entitled to a non-taxable allowance... for every month" that they work from home.
"Working from home tends to increase utility consumption, particularly electricity," Tolentino said in the bill's explanatory note.
"Some workers even purchase their own equipment for working at home," he said.
Thousands of Filipinos were forced to work from home since March, after the government placed parts of the country under a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
According to the Manila Electric Co (Meralco), each household is expected to see a 39 percent increase in electricity consumption "for ever person on a work-from-home arrangement."
"These additional expenses are out of the employee's own pockets and for the benefit of the employer's business," Tolentino said.
"Assistance must be provided to the employees in order to cushion the impact of this new normal and make this practice sustainable."
If the bill is passed into law, public and private agencies that fail to give the allowance may may be slapped with a P100,000 fine.
Under the proposed measure, existing benefits should not be eliminated in lieu of the work-from-home allowance.
Last week, Tolentino said home-based workers should also be given tax cuts. But the bill only guarantees that "allowances granted by private employers... shall be deductible for income tax purposes."