Senator Joel Villanueva is pushing to secure the rights and welfare of some 1.5 million freelancers or gig economy workers in the Philippines, whose numbers are expected to rise as the country recovers from the pandemic.
Villanueva noted that the Philippines ranked sixth fastest growing markets in the world for the gig economy according to the 2018 Gig Economy Index, with forecasts that the majority of the world’s workforce will be freelancers by 2027.
“As the numbers of freelance workers continue to increase, it has become more apparent that this new class of workers require protection from new laws.”
“As the numbers of freelance workers continue to increase, it has become more apparent that this new class of workers require protection from new laws, with due regard to the special nature of their engagement which makes them more prone to abuse and exploitation,” the veteran legislator said.
“We have heard stories of freelance workers and independent contractors being abused and exploited for projects only to be underpaid, receive delayed payments after a year, or not be paid at all. Freelancing isn’t for free,” the seasoned lawmaker added.
His Senate Bill No. 136, or the Freelancers Protection Act, defines freelancers as one who “offers or renders a task, work or service through his or her freely chosen means or methods, free from any forms of economic dependence, control or supervision by the client, regardless of whether he or she is paid by results, piece, task, hour, day, job or by the nature of the services required”.
The senator said that there are gaps in the country’s labor laws that need to be addressed to cater to the emergence of gig workers especially during the pandemic, such as home-based creative workers, on-demand professional services, on-demand courier services, and many other types of freelance goods and services.
“The rise of Filipino freelance workers signals that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is indeed upon us, something that the pandemic cannot stop. In fact, the gig economy grew stronger through the pandemic, and is here to stay,” he said.
“The gig economy grew stronger through the pandemic, and is here to stay.”
SB. No. 136 seeks to lay out the minimum rights of freelancers including right to just compensation, right to safe and healthy working conditions, and the right to self-organize and collectively bargain, among others.
In a message for Grab Philippines launch of its Daan ng Natigil outreach program in Marikina City, Villanueva told the audience of Grab riders and out-of-school youths that his bill also secures freelancers’ right to education and skills training.
This would be done through upskilling certification and entrepreneurial enhancement programs from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority with other government agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Information and Communication Technology.
This bill also mandates the client and the freelance worker to enter into a written contract that specifies all the services that the freelance worker is expected to render, compensation, as well as other relevant terms and conditions of the engagement.
Villanueva hopes his refiled bill passes into law this 19th Congress, as it has already reached the Senate plenary for debates during the previous Congress.