AS the country’s so-called gig economy industry continues to rise, lawmakers are pushing for measures to protect freelance workers by establishing a basic regulatory framework to enable them to anticipate challenges ahead.
During the hearing of the House Committee on Labor and Employment on Wednesday, 1-Pacman Rep. Enrico Pineda, the panel chairman, said there are four pending bills providing protection and incentives for freelance workers.
House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Joey Sarte Salceda, one of the authors of the four bills, said the gig economy will grow larger as a sector, saying now is the time to establish a basic regulatory framework for the sector.
Moreover, in his aide memoire addressed to the leadership of the lower chamber, Salceda said most freelance workers are not given due respect due to the transient nature of their employment.
“They are also more exposed to fraudulent transactions, exploitation of skills, and unpaid gigs,” he said.
“It is also hard for freelance workers to pursue clients and/or companies in cases of non-payment because of failure to prove employee-employer relationships if they are working without contracts,” he added.
Salceda said the Philippines placed 6th in the world as the fastest-growing market for the gig industry, with a 35 percent growth in freelance earnings according to a 2019 report by Payoneer on “Global Gig Economy Index.”
Salceda also singled out confusing tax filing processes for freelance workers as a major problem for those in the gig economy industry.
“These issues include: submitting incomplete and incorrect data, miscalculating the tax due, not declaring every income earned and dissing the deadline,” he added.
According to Salceda, the government, the work force, and the labor sector must be creative and assertive in their role in ensuring that freelance workers are always protected.
“Filipinos are the top internet users in the world, spending an average of 10 hours online a day according to WeAreSocial and Hootsuite. We are the best-placed country to take advantage of the gig economy,” he added.
“The proposed framework under my House Bill 1527 is both proactive in preserving the inviolable dignity of labor, while also being basic enough to allow for future developments in this evolving sector,” the lawmaker said.
Salceda’s bill provides a remedy in the event that an employer refuses to pay a freelancer for services rendered. The aggrieved party can file a complaint to the appropriate agency for protection. It will also provide penalties for any violation of their rights.
Under the bill, once a freelance worker has commenced work under the contract, no hiring party may require as a condition of payment that a freelance worker accept less than the specified contract price.
The measure also takes into account ease of doing business for freelancers, making it easier for freelancers to register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and in other government agencies.