Right to Disconnect bill in the Philippines faces employer pushback

The proposed legislation seeks to amend the Labour Code, allowing employees the right to disconnect after work hours.
By: | December 27, 2023

The Philippines’ proposed right to disconnect bill, House Bill (HB) 9735, is facing opposition from the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), raising concerns about its impact on workplace relations and foreign investment.

Sergo Ortiz-Luis Jr., President of the COP, expressed strong reservations about the bill, arguing that it would create unnecessary tension between employers and employees. He believes the current “partnership kind of relationship” where employees appreciate being kept informed should be preserved.

HB 9735 aims to amend the Labour Code, granting employees the right to disengage from work communication outside of regular work hours. While the bill allows employers to set exemption conditions under regulations from the Department of Labour and Employment, Ortiz-Luis fears it could disrupt the existing balance.

“Many antiquated laws need to be scrapped. We don’t need to keep adding to them. It just creates tension in the relationship between employee and employer,” he said.

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Furthermore, Ortiz-Luis voiced concerns about potential negative consequences for foreign direct investments (FDI). He highlighted the challenge for foreign organisations operating across time zones, citing an example of US investors potentially violating the law by contacting employees in the Philippines during their off-duty hours.

“Investors will just go Vietnam or Thailand where the labour laws are friendly. We already have enough problems so let’s not add to them,” he said, reported Philstar.