Acknowledging that Filipino freelancers are abused and exploited by their employers, Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte drafted a bill to protect the rights of freelancers, which changed the employment landscape Filipino because of access to online work.
Duterte, along with Benguet Representative Eric Yap and ACT-CIS Party Representatives Edvic Yap and Jeffrey Soriano, filed Internal Bill (HB) No. 3738 due to the need to protect the rights of freelancers, including the number is expected to increase exponentially as the country transitions to a digital economy.
The bill sought to make written contracts mandatory for obtaining the services of freelancers, as well as providing them with night pay and hazard pay, where applicable.
“Freelancers mostly belong to what we now call the ‘gig economy’ and their numbers have increased, especially during the pandemic. Although they contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth, they remain vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” Duterte said in a statement.
“With their numbers expected to grow even further as we transition to a digital economy, we need enabling legislation to protect their rights and well-being,” he added.
Depending on the measure, mandatory written contracts should include the following:
⁃ The details of all the services to be provided
⁃ Details of compensation and other benefits, including rate, method and schedule of payment;
⁃ Period of employment;
⁃ Reasons for breach of contract both on the part of the client and the freelancer; and
⁃ The tax identification number (TIN) of the freelancer.
Currently, the Philippines is the sixth-largest country with the fastest growing freelance market, according to financial services provider Payoneer’s Global Gig Economy Index 2019.
This growth has contributed to a 35% increase in freelance revenue, the payment service provider added.
According to Duterte and Yap, “independent estimates” showed that there are about 1.5 to 2 million Filipinos working as freelancers.
The proposed measure also stipulated that freelancers should receive differential night pay of at least 10 percent of the worker’s regular pay for those required to be physically present at the workplace or those on assignment in the field. for each hour worked between 10 a.m. and 6 a.m., “unless a more favorable rate is stipulated” in the contract.
“The bill also encourages self-employed people to register with the BIR, file and pay taxes. Freelancers are covered by tax relief provisions under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act and the Barangay Micro Enterprises Act, the bill also states” , Yap explained.
In addition, the bill stipulated that self-employed workers posted to hazardous areas were entitled to a hazard pay of at least 25% of their total compensation for the period of their deployment in those areas.
Hazardous areas identified under the bill include “conflict-torn or besieged locations, distressed or isolated stations, prison camps, psychiatric hospitals, radiation-exposed clinics, laboratories or infested areas diseases, or in areas declared to be in a state of calamity or emergency. ”
To further protect freelancers’ compensation, the measure would also make it illegal for the employer to pay them more than 15 days after the payment date specified in their contracts, or require them to accept less than the specified contract price as a condition for receiving compensation.
It is also illegal to commit any form of retaliation arising from the actions of Freelancers intended to protect their rights as workers.
Violation of the provisions of the law would result in a fine penalty of at least 50,000 pesos but not more than 500,000 pesos.
Currently, the top three freelance jobs in the Philippines are in sales and marketing (32%), customer service (21%), data entry/internet research (20%) and creative/media graphic design ( 7%). survey by Payoneer and GCash mobile wallet reported.
The survey also revealed that freelancers are most concerned about the lack of benefits (37%), uncertainty about future income (29%) and the isolation of working alone (23%).
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