The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a measure that would protect and promote the welfare of freelance workers in the country.
Pangasinan Rep. Christopher de Venecia, chairman of the Special Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts and one of the authors of the bill, explained that freelance workers are collectively a new sector in the workforce that emerged along with the significant technological advancements that modified the pattern and standards in employment.
The House Bill (HB) 6718 or the proposed Freelance Workers Protection Act is expected to be approved on third and final reading next week.
“This measure, which was passed on Third Reading in the last Congress, proposes to protect and promote the welfare of freelance workers in the country, recognizing that as workers, they do have rights comparable to those who fall under the purview of the Labor Code,” de Venecia said.
De Venecia added that there were freelancers whose “contract-basis” terms of employment have been abused including changing the terms of agreement at the last minute, not paying on time or at all, and forcing them to work ungodly hours or in unsafe environments.
“What’s worse, [these companies] feel they can get away with it because freelance workers are not formalized into our society. But this is about to change,” de Venecia said.
The bill mandates a written contract between the employer and the freelance worker specifying the services to be provided by the freelance worker, details of compensation and benefits, employment period, grounds for breach of contract, the freelance worker’s tax identification number and other conditions as may be directed by the Department of Labor and Employment.
It also requires at least 30 percent downpayment of the contract price to be paid upon engagement.
The bill also provides for night-shift differential and hazard pay to freelance workers while imposing a civil penalty of P50,000 to P500,000 for unlawful practices enumerated in the proposal.
It mandates freelance workers to register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and for every BIR revenue district office to designate a special lane or special assistance desk for the purpose.
The bill also grants a tax relief to freelance workers within the threshold specified under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act and Barangay Micro Business Enterprises of 2002.
De Venecia said the measure acknowledges the changing landscape of how jobs are performed by granting freelancers, who work under unique circumstances, the protection of the law and thereby promote their welfare.
“Our freelancers will also now be recognized in a way that when credit institutions, embassies, or government agencies see that you are a graphic artist, software developer, events host, musician, photographer, they know you are actually engaged in a career that is codified in an enabling law, and not just ‘rumaraket,’” he said.
He added “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.”