House panel okays bill protecting freelancers

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

January 22, 2021, 3:02 pm

MANILA – A measure providing protection to freelancers in the country has hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives.

The House Committee on Labor and Employment, chaired by 1-PACMAN Rep. Enrico Pineda, approved this week the substitute bill that would advance the rights and welfare of freelancers, ensuring them entitlement to humane working conditions and a proper living wage.

The bill defines ‘freelancer’ as “any person or entity hired or retained as an independent contractor to do work according to one’s own methods without being subjected to the control of the hiring party, except only as to the results of the work, and is hired to provide services in exchange for compensation.”

It provides that the hazard pay to be granted to freelancers shall be equivalent to at least 25 percent of the total payment for the period of work deployment unless there is a more favorable fee stipulated in the contract.

Deputy Speaker Eddie Villanueva, a principal author of the bill, said it will guarantee the non-negotiable aspects of business transactions between an employer and a freelancer such as the existence of a contract, standard fees, schedule of payments, and other benefits a regular job affords.

Villanueva noted that the measure also provides for penalties and sanctions of hiring parties that will not comply with the policies set by the proposed law.

According to a study by the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UP-SOLAIR), the Philippines ranked 3rd in terms of online freelancing in the world, next only to the United States and India.

Filipino freelancers are currently pegged at 1.5 million and this figure is expected to balloon in the next years, especially with the employment landscape brought by the on-going pandemic.

The approved bill provides, among others, the following statutory terms for freelancers: mandatory execution for written contract detailing the terms of employment, night shift differential, hazard pay, taxation aspect, the enumeration of unlawful practices, and the penalty for such violations.

The bill will now be endorsed to the plenary for another round of deliberations. (PNA)