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Some BPO firms forego tax perks rather than stop WFH setup

At least four to six companies in the business process outsourcing (BPO) are willing to give up the fiscal incentives they are enjoying from the government just to adopt the work-from-home (WFH) arrangement, a newly organized group of BPO workers said.

In a press conference yesterday, Alliance of Call Center Workers (ACW) co-convenor Lara Melencio said not less than four companies are choosing to forego their tax perks rather than force their workers to return to office, according to employees of these BPO firms.

Melencio said BPO employees expect to still enjoy the same salary and incentives even though their employers stand to lose tax perks from the government as they continue the WFH setup.

ACW was organized through a Facebook group two weeks ago, now with some 1,400 member workers from various BPO firms.

ACW co-convenor Emman David said the group was established to urge the government to allow the industry’s request to extend the WFH arrangement beyond this month.

The government has ordered companies, especially BPO firms, to return their operations in economic zones and information technology (IT) parks where they registered their businesses to continue enjoying fiscal incentives provided by the government by April 1.

Enterprises registered with investment promotion agencies are enjoying incentives, such as income tax holiday or a 5-percent special corporate income tax in lieu of value-added tax, income tax, and local business tax.

David said in a recent poll done by the group, 156 members said they will resign from their jobs if the WFH setup will no longer be allowed, 117 are undecided, while 37 members will stay in their work even if they have to go back to their offices.

He added some BPO employees living in the provinces are reluctant to return to their offices, as they have to rent for their accommodation in Metro Manila, which have contracts of at least three months.

They fear that if the government will shift to stricter alert levels, they would have to go back to WFH setup when they already paid for their rentals in advance, David added.

He said BPO employees are supporting small-scale businesses more in a WFH arrangement as they buy products and services now from local micro and small enterprises.

“When we are in the ecozones, or in BGC (Bonifacio Global City), we are buying from these large businesses. So, how are we not supporting MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in a work-from-home arrangement?” he said in mixed Filipino and English.

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino president and senatorial aspirant Luke Espiritu has expressed his support to the BPO workers’ group.

“They are not asking for a permanent work-from-home setup, just extend the setup; is it too much to ask? That’s what the companies also asked for,” Espiritu said in the same virtual event.

Espiritu urged the administration as it ends its term by middle of 2022 to “leave a legacy that is compassionate and understanding of the situation and plight of the workers”.*PNA

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