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Senate hastening bill to give ‘mantle of protection’ to freelancers, gig economy workers

/ 05:52 PM August 24, 2021
Senate hastening bill to give 'mantle of protection' to freelancers, gig economy workers

FILE PHOTO: Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, entertains questions from his colleagues during the period of interpellation on Senate Bill No. 2234 or the Act Creating the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos, Defining its Powers and Functions of Government Agencies Related to Overseas Employment and Migration on Wednesday, August 4, 2021.  (Voltaire F. Domingo/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate is expediting the passage of a bill that will provide a “mantle of protection” to freelancers and so-called gig economy workers at risk of abuse and exploitation, according to Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday.

Senate Bill No. 1810 or the Freelancers Protection Act, authored and sponsored by Villanueva, defines a freelancer as a “person who renders a task, work or service through his or her freely chosen means and methods, free from any forms of economic dependence, control or supervision by the clients, regardless of whether they are paid by results, piece, task, hour, day, job or by the nature of the service required.”

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The proposed law aims to provide “just compensation and equal remuneration for work of equal value without manipulation or distinction of any kind; safe and healthy working conditions; self-organization and to collectively negotiate with the government, client, and other entities for the promotion of their welfare and in the advancement of their rights and interests; protections against any form of discrimination, violence, sexual harassment, and abuse; affordable and adequate financial services; and social protection and social welfare benefits.”

The measure also wants to ensure that freelancers and gig economy workers will be paid not later than 30 days from their completion of the task.

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“Historically, laws always play catch-up with technology. In the case of freelancers, laws that protect them are way behind the curve,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, said in a statement.

Villanueva noted that existing labor laws were crafted way before delivery riders, home-based creative workers, and work-on-demand professionals come into play.

But the senator further said the 1987 Constitution calls for the rights of workers to be upheld, as “it does not discriminate as to what kind of workers.”

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier admitted there is no law expanding labor protection to freelancers and self-employed professionals.

“Isa po rito ang mga riders natin na kahit umulan at bumagyo o laganap ang iba’t-ibang variant ng COVID ay parang may oras na hinahabol. Dahil may quota na hinahabol at multang iniiwasan, malapit po sila sa disgrasya o pagkahawa,” Villanueva explained.

(One of these is our riders who race through time despite the rains and the threat of COVID-19 variants. This is because they have a quota to reach and a penalty to be avoided, they are vulnerable to accidents and infection.)

The legislator stressed the need to urgently address the issue, especially because the number of workers in this field has increased to 1.5 million during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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TAGS: freelancers, Freelancers Protection Act, gig economy, Joel Villanueva, Legislation, Senate, Senate Bill No. 1810
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