Former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her son, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Arroyo, have filed a bill demanding more protection for the over 400,000 workers of Philippine business process outsourcing (BPO) or Philippine call centers

The lawmakers have filed House Bill 5218, or the Magna Carta for Call Center Workers, which enumerates the rights of offshore staff in the Philippines such as call center agents and protect the interest and welfare of its workers.

“It is in the interest of the BPO companies themselves to protect their workers who are their most important resource,” the younger Arroyo said in a statement.

Arroyo filed the bill because he believes call center workers are regularly exposed to “high levels of stress,” that can affect their mental and physical well-being.

The industry of business outsource to the Philippines is described as the country’s “sunshine industry,” accounted for $5.7 billion in the country’s revenues in 2010.

If approved, the law mandates the following:
1. All call center companies to provide their employees a one-hour continuous meal break for every eight-hour shift.
2. Provide a “comfortable resting area within the employer’s premises” where employees working in the night shift can stay until daybreak to ensure their safety.
3. Prohibits BPO industries from monitoring personal phone calls of their employees.
4. Allowing call center workers to organize and join labor unions to ensure that all their rights are being protected.
5. Create a BPO Help Desk in all national and regional offices of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to advise employees on the terms of their contracts.

HB 5218 is currently on first reading at the House of Representatives. It will have to pass committee and plenary deliberations in both the House of Representatives and the Senate before it can be signed by the President into law.