There is an urgent need to pass a law protecting the rights and welfare of freelance workers.
Thus, said Davao City 1st district Representative Paolo Duterte following a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) holding an online food delivery company liable for illegally dismissing its riders.
Duterte said the legal dispute between the company and the delivery riders wouldn't have reached this far had there been a law safeguarding the rights of freelancers from abuse and exploitation.
““We won’t be commenting on the details of the case as this is still a continuing legal battle between the two parties. What we would like to point out, though, is that this issue has highlighted the lack of protection and benefits for freelancers," the second-term congressman said.
"This could be corrected by passing a pending measure in Congress that squarely addresses this longstanding concern in our fast-growing gig economy,” Duterte said.
The Mindanaoan was referring to House Bill (HB) No.3738, or the proposed Act providing protection for freelance workers. The bill has been pending before the House Committee on Labor and Employment since August 2022.
The bill seeks to recognize and protect the rights of freelancers like couriers and delivery riders, along with millions of other workers identified under the measure as “independent contractors".
Benguet lone district Rep. Eric Go Yap and ACT-CIS Party-list Reps. Edvic Yap and Jeffrey Soriano served as Duterte's co-authors.
Duterte said that in the absence of a law providing freelancers protection from abuse, many freelancers are hired with vague and unclear conditions, leaving them to fend off for themselves in instances when payments for their services are delayed, unreasonably reduced, or worse, not given to them at all.
The bill endeavors to shield these individuals from unfair labor practices by making written contracts mandatory in obtaining the services of freelancers, along with providing them with night differential and hazard pay when applicable.
It also makes it unlawful to commit any form of retaliation arising from the acts of freelancers meant to protect their rights as workers.
To ensure that freelancers receive ust compensation for services rendered, the measure makes it unlawful for a hiring party to pay them later than 15 days after the stated payment date in their contracts or to require them to accept less than the specified contract price as condition for receipt of compensation, Duterte noted.
Written contracts in hiring freelancers should include 1) the itemization of all services to be provided; 2) details of compensation and other benefits, including rate, method and schedule of payment; 3) period of employment; 4) grounds for breach of contract on the part of both the hiring party and the freelancer; and 5) the Tax Identification Number (TIN) of the freelancer.
Duterte said the bill also encourages freelancers to register with the BIR and file and pay taxes.
Seven delivery riders from Davao City recentlt filed a case against the operator of a leading app-based food delivery platform. The riders, represented by the Davao United Delivery Riders Association Inc. (DUDRAI), said they were illegally dismissed by the company by suspending them and barring them from using its mobile app for 10 years.
The riders had been calling for transparency on how their pay was calculated by the company before their services were terminated.