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House body approval of bill protecting freelancers hailed

CITIZENS Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Reps. Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva and Domeng Rivera hailed the approval by the House committee on labor and employment of the substitute bill seeking to protect and promote the interests and welfare of freelancers in the country.

The still unnumbered substitute bill is a consolidation of several measures – including House Bill (HB) 3219 filed by Villanueva and Rivera – which seeks to provide the rightful terms for our freelancers that they can rightfully demand from their employers.

“The current rise in technological advancement, coupled with the changing paradigms and standards in employment, causes an upsurge in one sector of the country’s labor force: the freelancers. The approval of this bill is welcome news because 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. Likewise, the measure provides for penalties and sanctions of hiring parties that will not comply,” said Villanueva, a Deputy Speaker.

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

Rivera thanked the committee headed by Chairperson Enrico Pineda for acting on and approving the measure with dispatch, saying that it is a timely and badly-needed legislation for freelancers which include project managers, app developer, software or systems engineer, technical writer, quality analyst, digital marketing manager/analyst, web content manager or editor, client services specialist, business analyst, to name a few.

“This measure will bestow dignity and respect due to the millions of our workers in the gig economy who frequently experience being short-changed and abused. This legislation will put an end to unfair and cruel practices jeopardizing our freelancers like grossly late payment or not payment at all for the services rendered or being paid with amount lower than the rate agreed-upon at the start of a project.

Our freelancers, who significantly contribute to our economy, will now have remedy to recourse in case of abuses,” Rivera ended.

The bill will now be brought to plenary debate and approval before it is transmitted to the Senate for its consideration and action.