By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

CONGRESS should pass proposed measures ensuring that workers in the gig economy are afforded their basic rights as employees, labor groups said.

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) is pushing for the Senate to approve Senate Bill No. 1373, which aims to recognize gig workers on online platforms as regular employees, ensuring they receive the same protections under Philippine law.

A gig economy refers to a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments or gigs.

“Legislation in this sphere should likewise harmonize with the game-changing Lazada ruling,” FFW President Jose “Sonny” G. Matula said in a Viber message, citing a recent Supreme Court ruling.

This ruling, made public last Jan. 19, ordered Lazada E-Services Philippines, Inc. to pay riders it had illegally dismissed full back wages from the time of dismissal up to the time of actual reinstatement.

It reversed the decisions of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and the Court of Appeals, which ruled that there was no employer-employee relationship between the riders and Lazada.

“We firmly believe that the freelance bill could go a long way in protecting our gig riders, in particular, should it incorporate our proposals for a charter of rights,” Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa Secretary-General Josua T. Mata said in a Viber message.

“Essentially, that means that all gig riders, irrespective of their employment status, should enjoy the same rights and benefits that regular employees have, including the right to join or form unions,” Mr. Mata said.

Recently, Labor Undersecretary Benedicto R. Bitonio, Jr. told a House of Representatives committee hearing that the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) supports a proposed law protecting the rights and welfare of freelance workers, referring to House Bill No. 6718.

The bill, titled the Freelance Workers Protect Act, aims to provide safeguards for the welfare of freelance workers.