House Approves Bill Aiming to Improve Protection of Freelance Workers in the Philippines
The House of Representatives in the 19th Congress approved the third and final reading of the proposed Freelance Workers Protection Act last Monday, February 6.
The bill, garnering a clean sweep of 250 votes and passed as House Bill 6718 and will be submitted to the Senate, aims to provide several benefits for an estimated 1.5 million local freelance employees. These benefits include the mandating of night differential and hazard pay when applicable.
Aside from the differential pay, the approved bill also seeks to ensure a written contract that states the terms of the freelancer’s employment, as well as provides a list of unlawful practices for the hiring party.
The imposition of a fine for people who were found guilty of unlawful practices and instruction of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to create a special lane for freelance workers in every revenue district office is also part of the approved bill.
Furthermore, the bill aims to grant tax relief to freelancers within the threshold provided under the amended tax code.
House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez stated that the passing of this bill is crucial in the expansion of the digital economy.
Romualdez said, “If no laws are in place to protect our gig economy freelancers or establish a formal grievance system for enforcement of their rights, they will be susceptible to all kinds of abuse. They need protective cover under our laws as a significant driver of our economy.”
HB 6718 defines a freelance worker as any person or entity composed of no more than one natural person, whether incorporated under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), registered as a sole proprietorship under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or self-employed with the BIR.
The House proposed a similar bill in the 18th Congress but failed to get passed to the Senate during that time.