Senator pushes for 'social protection' of freelance workers anew

Senator pushes for 'social protection' of freelance workers anew
File photo shows a person using their laptop while holding a mobile phone
AFP, File

MANILA, Philippines — Freelancing have seen tremendous growth over the years in the Philippines especially during the "remote work boom" of the COVID-19 pandemic. But like other non-regular workers in the country, they lack many of the protections and benefits afforded by the law to employees.

In statement released Saturday, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian highlighted the need to provide social protection for the said workforce as the sector is expected to sustain growth moving forward.

"With the expected rise of freelance workers in years to come, we need to ensure that social protection schemes are suitable and responsive to the needs of freelance workers," Gatchalian said, who filed Senate Bill 945 or the Freelancers Protection Act.

"Formalization can lead to better protection and provision of social services such as credit opportunities and training, among others, for our 'new normal' workforce."

As of June 2021, around 1.5 Filipinos were said to be contributing to the "gig economy," according to data released by the Creative Economy Council of the Philippines.

A study conducted by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines and World Intellectual Property Organization also showed that in 2021, the creative or copy-right-based industry's contribution to the country's gross domestic product was pegged at around P661.23 billion of 7.3% of the domestic economy.

The proposed measure aims to to give even treatment of employment to freelance workers, improve their working conditions and simplify their tax registrations. 

Currently, many self-employed workers find difficulty complying with their tax obligations, as they have to do it all on their own unlike regular employees whose taxes and contributions are automatically deducted from their salaries.

Freelancers currently have to file contributions to the Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., etc. all by themselves, sometimes shelling out more in the process.

Should the bill hurdle Congress, Section 11 would ensure a "simplified and online registration and remittance process" for freelancers as self-employed workers. It also aims to provide easy access to members' benefits such as sickness and unemployment benefits.

"Inaasahan natin na lalo pang lalawak ang saklaw ng freelancing sa mga dadating na taon at kaakibat nito ang paglago ng kanilang kontribusyon sa ekonomiya ng bansa kaya't dapat mabigyan ng karampatang proteksyon ang ating mga freelance workers," Gatchalian ended. — James Relativo





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