DIGITAL home-based workers in the country are mostly well-educated, but suffer substandard work benefits, according to a new report from the International Labor Organization (ILO).

In its “Working from home: From invisibility to decent work” report, ILO said 61 percent of 300 Filipino home-based workers it surveyed hold a bachelor’s degree.

They are mostly engaged in data entry, general virtual assistance, information technology and micro-tasks.

Only about 40 percent of them have a single client; the rest have multiple clients since they handle subcontracted tasks.

The said workers are usually compelled to juggle their work as well as household chores. This tend to be burdensome, particularly for women, since they are usually delegated such chores at home.

“When the job order is big and turnaround time for delivery is short, women work through the night with little rest, sometimes for several nights in a row,” ILO said in a statement.

While these workers remain covered by pertinent laws such as the Labor Code, Child and Youth Welfare Code, and the Minimum Wage law, they suffer disadvantages compared to their office-based counterparts such as not being able to actively register with the Social Security System (SSS) and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

“Among the 85 homeworkers interviewed for an ILO-commissioned study in 2019, only 22 percent were currently covered by the national social security system—mostly because they were covered through a spouse, parent or child,” ILO said.

“A bigger proportion (60 percent) were covered by PhilHealth (the national health insurance system). The rest were covered by the government under a conditional cash transfer program or other schemes,” it added.

Home-based workers are also mostly unorganized due to low awareness of their labor rights and must personally pay for their training to improve their skills.

They also have to deal with unregulated practices such as their employers requesting they “redo work without any supplementary payment if it is improperly executed.”

ILO urged countries including the Philippines to pass laws to address such employment concerns of digital home workers especially since their numbers are expected to increase with the onset of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic last year.

Based on its estimates, ILO said there were already 260 million home-based workers worldwide before the pandemic.

“Homeworking is often poorly regulated and compliance with existing laws remains a challenge. In many instances, homeworkers are classified as independent contractors and therefore excluded from the scope of labor legislation,” ILO said.

Here in the Philippines, ILO recognized pending legislations, which aim to provide additional protection for home-based workers such as fixing of adequate piece-rate wages.

It also pointed out the pending local bill, which imposes penalties on employers if they will violate the terms of their contract with home-based workers.

ILO welcomed such initiatives, which aim to formalize the work conditions of the said sector.


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