Bill safeguarding freelancers gets House panel nod
MANILA, Philippines – The House committee on labor and employment has approved the proposed measure seeking to provide basic safeguards and incentives to freelance workers.
House Bill No. 615 or the Freelance Workers Protection Act, authored by Rep. Christopher De Venecia of the 4th District of Pangasinan, aims “to promote the safety and well-being of freelance workers, specifically, by mandating the provision of mandatory hazard pay and night shift differential pay.”
It also grants freelancers and self-employed professionals “the power to demand payment for services rendered through several legal channels, impose civil penalties on unscrupulous hiring parties, and criminalize nonpayment of compensation of freelance workers.”
During the panel’s meeting on Monday, De Venecia described freelancers as a sector in urgent need of support and protection.
“I believe it’s high time that we pass a measure that will now protect the critical mass of the creative industry, which is really the freelancers,” he said.
The lawmaker further pointed out: “As was revealed by the pandemic, the vulnerabilities of the freelancers were really exposed because freelancers operate in a ‘no work, no pay’ modality.”
Aside from outlining the required provisions of a contract that must be entered into by the freelancers and the hiring party, the proposed measure also entitles these workers to night shift differential and hazard pays.
Among the violations under the bill are late payment, adjustments in the requirements and conditions of compensation, and retaliation against the freelancer under certain circumstances, which will mete out civil penalties ranging from P50,000 to P500,000.
“It also reminds freelancers about their responsibilities, just like any Filipino has responsibilities, in terms of taxation. However, what it does is it creates a special lane in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) district office, so that the freelancers are more or less assisted and prioritized, because there seems to be a lack of understanding also within the BIR as to what exactly a freelancer does,” De Venecia further noted.
After obtaining the committee’s approval upon the motion of Rep. Arlene Brosas of the Gabriela Partylist, the proposed measure will now be transmitted to the lower chamber’s plenary.
A similar version of the said bill was filed and approved by the House of Representatives on final reading in the previous Congress, but it did not earn a final nod from the Senate.