With the Philippines sporting one of the world’s fastest growing freelance worker populations, the government has started looking at providing them with basic safeguards and incentives that they otherwise would not normally receive from their employers.
In a recent session, the Philippine Congress passed House Bill No. 615, entitled the Freelance Workers Protection Act, “to promote the safety and well-being of freelance workers, specifically, by mandating the provision of mandatory hazard pay and night shift differential pay.”
According to the bill, freelancers are “hired or retained to provide services in exchange for compensation”. They are either registered businesses with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), or are self-employed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Protection for freelancers
In its current form, the bill aims to empower freelance workers to demand payment for legally rendered work, penalize unscrupulous recruiters, and criminalize non-payment of freelance workers. It will also require employers to execute a written contract before any work is started.
Any violations on the part of the employer will be fined, from PHP50,000 ($871) to PHP500,000 ($8,708)
According to the bill’s author, Rep. Christopher de Venecia, the freelance sector needs urgent support and protection, especially as freelancers account for the largest part of the country’s creative industry. In 2021, the Creative Economy Council of the Philippines (CECP) estimated the number of freelancers in the country to be 1.5 million.
A recent report by mobile wallet GCash and financial services company Payoneer shows that Filipino freelancers earn 57% more per hour than their locally employed peers. This has made freelancing and working remotely attractive in the last few months, with Filipinos joining growing online communities to help them jumpstart their own freelance careers.
The report, however, notes that freelancers have their fair share of concerns.
“While many enjoy the opportunities and flexibility of freelancing, the lack of company benefits including health insurance and medical allowances is a concern, particularly to the traditional freelancers who are often raising a family,” the report says.
“The unpredictability of a steady income stream and job stability can cause freelancers a high level of stress.”