Hontiveros proposes Senate probe into working conditions of freelancers, riders

Senator Risa Hontiveros has called on the Senate to look into the working conditions of the so-called “gig economy” or workers taking on temporary or part-time employment.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 732, Hontiveros said the Senate should look into and address reports of unfair working conditions imposed among delivery riders, motorcycle taxi, Grab drivers and other freelancers especially amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The senator also said there are countless reports of unstable working conditions and some of them are not even considered employees of the company they work with, and therefore, lack the benefits and social protection.

“As lawmakers, we should look into these and craft measures that will better protect our gig economy workers,” Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said the Senate should look into the “gig-economy,” defined as new technology-enabled forms of work, often temporary and flexible, utilized by companies that rely primarily on independent contractors and freelancers.

She said that while the country ranked 6th in the world as the fastest-growing market for the gig economy, workers have been sounding the alarm on the lack of stability, low pay, limited opportunity in the sector, and technology replacing many of the routine jobs for workers.

The senator said one of the major issues the resolution seeks to tackle is the practice of classifying gig economy workers as independent contractors, and not employees.

Currently, they are not entitled to healthcare benefits, 13th month pay, retirement pay, leave credits, days-off, and other forms of basic labor rights found in the Labor Code.

“Without laws that regulate and define the rights of our gig economy workers, they will certainly be exposed to abuse and exploitation,” she stressed.

“Our employment landscape is evolving and so should our laws be. With the rapidly expanding gig economy, Congress must plan and think more broadly about delinking healthcare, unemployment insurance, and other vital benefits from specific forms of employment.

“No one should be left out, everyone who is part of the new normal should be entitled to protection and dignified livelihood, whatever their status in life is,” she said.