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Exemption sought for call centers from Malacañang no-work order 


The Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) on Tuesday said they are in talks with Malacañang to exempt the outsourcing industry from a memo canceling work in the private sector due to heavy rains.
 
BPAP executive director Gillian Virata told GMA News Online the association requested an exemption from the Palace directive because of the 24/7 nature of BPO companies that service clients overseas. The association has 600 member-companies that employ 480,000 people or about three-fourths of the total industry workers in the country, Virata said.
 
After the BPAP explained the “need for a 24-hour operation, they said they would grant an exemption…” Virata said, “thus, leaving discretion to management.” 
 
GMA News Online reported earlier on Tuesday that “call center agents and others doing business process outsourcing work are not covered by Malacañang memo canceling work in the private sector because of heavy rains and flooding, according to the BPAP."
 
BPO workers who may be stranded in flooded areas are excused from going to work, Virata noted. 
 
Virata, however, later told GMA News Online that her “earlier statements were premature.” 
 
Her response to the earlier interview with GMA News Online was “based on internal [BPAP] updates... That was my fault,” Virata said, noting she "wasn't directly in touch with Malacañang."
 
On premium pay
 
Lacierda issued a statement saying that BPO employers should give employees who will work on one of the rainiest days in memory the premium pay they deserve when work has been canceled nearly everywhere else. 
 
“For the private sector, if your employer requires you to go to work, they must be able: (1) be responsible for your safety; and (2) to give premium pay. In both instances, subject to existing labor standards: this covers all firms, including BPO and call centers,” Lacierda said.
 
The Department of Labor and Employment also issued a statement ordering companies to pay extra employees coming in on a no-work day.  
“On the declared no-work day due to floods and typhoons, the applicable pay rules for daily wage earners in the private sector is ‘no work, no pay.’ If a worker or employer works, as required by the employer, on the day declared as no-work day, the employee is entitled to premium pay for a special day equivalent to 30% of basic pay. This premium will apply to both daily-paid and monthly-paid workers,” said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz.
 
BPAP’s Virata said the association asked the Palace to require BPO companies to comply with Labor laws but not on premium payments. So far, BPAP has received no word on this from Malacañang.
 
Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told GMA News Online her office has not yet received notice of an exemption for the BPO industry from the no-work order.
 
“I don’t have an exemption order for them. If they were exempted, that should have been up there,” Valte said.
 
In memorandum circular No. 33-A, the Office of the President said “work in all offices in the private sector in the National Capital Region and the provinces of Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal are hereby suspended today, 07 August 2012.”
 
On her Twitter account @Abi_Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said those working in call centers or in other areas of business process outsourcing are covered by the work suspension. On the copy of the exemption order from the Palace, BPAP’s Virata said the request is done “through calls as of now” with presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.
 
“We were actually waiting for the order to be issued for us to be exempted,” Virata said.
 
Lacierda and Ochoa cannot be reached as of this posting. — VS/HS, GMA News
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