LABOR and employers groups as well as government agencies have sought amendments to bills seeking to protect freelancers and workers in the informal sector.
Among the provisions that were cited for clarification include the definition of freelancers with regards the more general informal sector workers, compensation rates provided under contracts, and social security benefits.
“We subscribe to the spirit and intent of the bill considering that it provides protection to our freelance workers,” Employers Confederation of the Philippines Legal Service Manager Robert F. Maronilla said during the Senate Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development Committee hearing.
“However, our concern is the definition of freelancers because we know that a majority of our workers in the Philippines come from the informal sector, if this bill is passed, only the freelancers will be given a lot of benefits,” he said.
Since certain workers in the informal sector will not be given the same benefits, the group is concerned that the bill “may become discriminatory if the other workers, who are similarly situated in the informal economy, are left behind.”
Senate Majority Leader Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, in response, said it was not the intent of the Senate to give freelancers a “VIP position.”
“I think it is proper to really differentiate the definition between self-employed, freelancers and informal workers because the idea here is to protect them because right now, they have zero protection in our labor code,” he said.
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Legislative Staff Officer Carlos Miguel S. Oñate said their “primary concern is the potential misclassification of freelancers as independent contractors even if they are performing necessary and regular task.”
Mr. Oñate also put forward the inclusion of contract provisions on minimum wage rates and “customized social insurance programs” for freelancers.
Representatives of the Department of Information and Communications Technology and Department of Transport expressed support to the bills, but will be submitting position papers on ensuring workers’ protection.
A counterpart bill in the House of Representatives was approved at the committee level on Sept. 19. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan