By Hannah Torregoza
Noting the rise of freelance workers in the country, Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV has sought passage of a measure seeking greater protection and incentives for them.
Aquino said it is high-time the government grants freelance workers greater protection, particularly from late or non-payment for services rendered.
“With more and more freelancers in the country, we are confronted with an urgent need to protect this new sector and empower then with ease of doing business,” Aquino said in filing Senate Bill No. 351 or the proposed “Freelancers Protection Act.”
“In our age of instantaneous global communication and interconnectivity, increased specialization and a millennialism that values mobility, creativity and entrepreneurship, we can only expect our pool of freelancers to grow,” Aquino stressed.
The measure is now pending in the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resource development which is chaired by Senator Joel Villanueva. Villanueva has signified his intention to be made co-author of the bill.
“Let us waste no time in ensuring that they are not inconvenienced by red tape and that they are protected from difficult, even fraudulent clients,” he added.
According to Aquino, the bill gives freelancers the power to demand from their employer rightful payment as per their signed contract, saying that one of the biggest challenges of a freelancer is non-payment of services.
Under the bill, a freelance worker may file a complaint to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) against an employer that refuses to pay him or her for services rendered.
Should the complaint be found valid, a penalty of up to P250,000 shall be imposed on the non-compliant employer.
Further civil penalties would also be imposed against the employer for every day he delays the compensation of the freelance worker. The aggrieved party also has the option to file a civil case against his or her employer.
Aquino noted that freelancing is no longer just a temporary state while they pursue their dream job but a long-term career choice.
The bill would make it easier for freelancers to register in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and mandate their exemption from tax payments for the first three years.