House OKs on 2nd reading bill safeguarding freelancers
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Wednesday moved a step closer to passing a bill seeking to give freelancers basic protection and incentives.
House Bill No. 6718, which aims to “protect the rights of workers, promote their welfare and ensure their entitlement to humane conditions of work and just share in the fruits of production,” was approved by the lawmakers on second reading through viva voce voting or a vote of ayes and nays.
The bill also pushes for the recognition of freelancers’ rights to be protected from experiencing the negative impacts of late or non-payment of fees for the services rendered.
Rep. Christopher De Venecia of the 4th District of Pangasinan, who is among the authors of the proposed measure, cited “horror stories of companies taking advantage of freelance workers by either changing the terms of the agreement at the last minute, not paying on time or not paying at all, forcing them to work ungodly hours or in unsafe environments.”
“What’s worse, they feel that they can get away with it because freelance workers are not formalized into our society. But this is about to change,” he said in his sponsorship speech.
The bill, De Vencecia said, will require freelance workers and hiring parties to enter into a written contract detailing the following:
- Itemization of all services to be provided by the freelance worker
- Details of compensation and other benefits, including rate, method, and schedule of payment
- Period of employment
- Grounds for breach of contract on the part of both the hiring party and the freelancer; and
- Any other condition, term or clause that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) may direct
If signed into law, the proposed measure will also require companies to pay their freelancers at least 30 percent of the contract price as a downpayment and a night shift differential pay of not less than 10 percent of their regular compensation if they are required to be physically present in their workplace or in the field.
A hazard pay of at least 25 percent of their total payment for the period of deployment in dangerous areas will also be mandated “unless there is a more favorable fee stipulated.”
The bill also protects freelancers from unlawful practices like hiring bodies paying the compensation later than fifteen days after the scheduled payout, requiring that the worker–after starting to render their services–be paid less than the compensation specified in the contract, and any other act of retaliation against the freelance worker.
“Freelancers, with this measure, will get to feel their place in society, especially as they grow into awareness over their rights, privileges and even responsibilities,” De Venecia said.
Tweaking the bill
Rep. Patrick Vargas of the 5th District of Quezon City moved that a written contract between the freelancer and their employer must contain the “personal circumstances” of the freelancer, including but not limited to their name, address, and tax identification number.
Additionally, Vargas deemed it unlawful to hire freelancers without a written contract. Specifically, he requested that the DOLE submit to the Philippine Creative Industries Development Council a report on how the measure was implemented.
The House adopted all of Vargas’ amendments, and the amended bill successfully passed the chamber’s second reading.