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Go backs bill protecting freelance workers

TDT

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Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his support to a proposed bill that will ensure that the rights and welfare of freelance workers are up to par with that of regular employees.

Go co-sponsored the Senate Bill No. 1810 or the Freelancers Protection Act, filed by Senators Joel Villanueva and Ramon Revilla, which seeks institutionalize the protections granted to freelance workers in the country.

In his manifestation in the Senate session last Wednesday, Go said that “freelancing is a viable way of earning a living, especially in a time of crisis like this.”

“It is about time that the law recognizes the importance of the industry and the necessity of ensuring that our freelancers will not be abused,” Go added.

Due to the economic impacts of the pandemic, Go also noted that many companies have closed down, leaving many Filipinos with no alternative but to do freelance work.

“Madaming mga kompanya na ang nagsara at madami sa mga kababayan natin ay nahihirapan kumita ngayon. Ang tanging paraan lang nila upang kumita ay ang pag-freelance,” he said.

“This is the least we could do to make sure their rights and well-being are protected,” Go added.

He pointed out that even outside a time of crisis,  freelancing has been emerging as an alternative to the traditional employer-employee work model.

“A lot of our workforce prefer to do their work on their own terms, and just as the law was written to protect the employees back then, the law must now recognize this emerging way of earning a living,” Go said.

“Hindi dapat matali sa lumang sistema ang pagtingin ng batas sa pagkita ng pera. As the society evolves, so must our laws,” he added.

Due to the absence of formal written contracts between them and their clients, Filipino freelance workers are vulnerable to abuse and have very little recourse through the law.

Under the proposed measure, a written contract will be required “reflecting the mutual consent of the parties to be bound by the terms and conditions of their freelance work engagement and the consideration for the services rendered by the freelancer” as sponsor Villanueva said in an interview.

The proposed bill also guarantees the rights of freelance workers. These include their rights to affordable and sufficient financial services, education and skills training as well as social protection and social welfare benefits, among others.

To further protect them, a registry of freelancers or freelancers association will also be established by the measure. The said registry will also assist the government in collecting accurate data and statistics that will allow it to extend assistance to them.

Furthermore, the bill will also mandate the Department of Labor and Employment to “conduct seminars on the legal resources available to freelancers, and as far as practicable, encourage the parties to a freelancing agreement to avail of alternative dispute mechanisms.”

Amid the community quarantine, Go has earlier called the attention of the national government to also prioritize and provide support for displaced workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including freelance workers.

“Dahil sa economic impacts ng pandemya, marami po sa kanila ay hindi makapagtrabaho o nahihirapang humanap ng trabaho. Nararapat lamang po na mabigyan sila ng tulong ng pamahalaan, lalo na iyong mga pinaka-nangangailangan nito,” Go said.

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