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Bill seeking protection for freelancers reaches Senate floor

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 9/8/2020 DONA MAGSINO,GMA News
a man using a laptop computer sitting on top of a table: working freelance writing self-employed Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash working freelance writing self-employed Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

A proposed law seeking to ensure protection for the growing number of freelancers in the Philippines was sponsored by Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday.

Senate Bill No. 1810 or the proposed Freelancers Protection Act defines a freelancer as any person "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."

Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, said the passage of the bill is needed especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more Filipinos to engage in freelance work.

"During this COVID-19 pandemic and the prolonged imposition of various quarantine measures, we have realized the variety of jobs that can be performed at home using the internet," he said during his sponsorship speech.

The emerging freelance jobs include tutoring, encoding, blogging, graphic designing, web development, online fitness coaching, telemedicine, according to Villanueva.

"While freelancing is undoubtedly a 'millennial thing' or a 'Gen Z' phenomenon, we believe that the changing landscape of employment and the global labor market now will also open opportunities for older, more mature workers to participate in the freelancing market," he added.

Among the key provisions of the bill is the enumeration of freelancers' rights which include the rights to a written contract or agreement; just compensation; safe and healthy working conditions; social protection and social welfare benefits; and speedy redress of grievances, among others.

To ensure that freelancers are paid on time, the bill states that "except as otherwise provided under the contract entered into by the parties, the agreed compensation shall be paid in full not later than 30 days after the completion of the task, work or service subject of the freelance work engagement."

"Kapag naisabatas po ang ating panukala, hindi na aabutin ng siyam-siyam bago mabayaran ang mga freelancer," Villanueva said.

Senator Bong Revilla, co-sponsor of the bill, said the standards for freelance work stated in the measure shall be implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment.

Recognizing that the DOLE currently does not have any related statistics on freelancers because of the absence of employer-employee relationships, Revilla cited available records from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

He said about 26.2 percent of the total 43.7 million employed persons in the country were "self-employed without any paid employee" based on PSA's Employment Situation in January 2019.

He added that the Social Security System also estimates the number of self-employed persons in the country at around 11.07 million.

Revilla said freelance work offers a viable and safe option to those who lost their jobs or who opt to shift careers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. — BM, GMA News

This article Bill seeking protection for freelancers reaches Senate floor was originally published in GMA News Online.

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