Revenues from freelance work in the Philippines has grown 35 percent in 2019 according to the 2019 Global Gig Index, but Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) admits that workers in the sector lack protection afforded by the Labor Code.
Senator Joel Villanueva has highlighted the predicament of freelance workers who are prone to exploitation and abuse because of the existing gaps in prevailing labor rules and regulation.
“Isang mahalagang punto na lumabas sa ating pagdinig ngayong araw ay ang kakulangan ng ating kasalukuyang batas na nagpo-protekta sa mga freelance workers. Lumalaki po ang kanilang bilang at mismong si Secretary Bello na ang nagsabing walang akmang labor standards ang sumasaklaw sa kanila,” said Villanueva, who chairs the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.
“We lack laws to protect freelance workers.”
“Sa pamamagitan ng ating Freelance Workers Protection Act, magkakaroon na po ng mga panuntunang akma sa ating panahon ngayon at para sa makabagong uri ng manggagawa,” continued the veteran legislator, who filed Senate Bill No. 153 or the Freelance Workers Protection Act.
The bill was among the measures the Senate committee tackled recently.
The bill defines freelance workers as “any natural person, or a One Person Corporation registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), or registered as a sole proprietorship with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), or registered as self-employed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), that is hired or retained as an independent contractor by a hiring party to provide services in exchange for compensation.”
The measure seeks to require hiring entities or individuals and freelance workers to enter into a written contract to cover the terms of their engagement. The contract must state all services the freelance worker is expected to render, the rate and method of compensation, as well other relevant terms and conditions of the engagement.
“Except as otherwise provided by law, all compensation earned by the freelance worker shall be paid or provided no later than thirty (30) days after the completion of the freelance worker’s services under the contract or the date such payment is due under the express terms of the contract, whichever comes first,” the bill said.
“Once a freelance worker has commenced performance under the contract, no hiring party may require as a condition of payment that a freelance worker accept less than the specified contract price,” it added.
“The current form of the Labor Code does not provide protection for freelance workers.”
At the hearing, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III explained that the current form of the Labor Code does not provide protection for freelance workers. He suggested to meet representatives from the Supreme Court and the National Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice to establish an effective investigatory and enforcement mechanisms, access to courts, among others.
The seasoned lawmaker agreed with the view, saying the growing number of freelance workers in the country shows the necessity for the State to protect their rights and interests.
“We want to pursue this measure because this sector is growing and they are the most prone to abuse. Through the measure, we seek to establish state protection for freelance workers so they could seek redress from proper legal channels and not through extra-legal forums,” the senator said at the sidelines of the labor committee hearing.