House OK’s bill setting freelance payment deadlines

A PROPOSED LAW that will require freelance workers in the gig economy to work under contract with specific payment deadlines was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives, sitting as a plenary body.

House Bill 8817 or the proposed Freelance Workers Protection Act was designed to increase the legal protections available to freelancers, and will require employers to pay freelancers their fee no later than 15 days after the payment date set out in the contract.

If enacted, the bill will require a written contract between the freelance workers and the hiring party before any services will be given by the freelancer. In the absence of a written contract, the fee is due immediately after the agreed services were rendered.

Freelancers will be eligible for night shift differential pay if physically present in the workplace or are on field assignment. They will be entitled to hazard pay if warranted.

The proposed law also grants a tax amnesty to freelance workers earning less than P1 million annually. A rate of 2% of gross receipts above the first P250,000 will apply.

Representative Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said in a statement Thursday that the measure will benefit over two million freelance workers, which he said will have grown due to the pandemic.

“Freelancing has become the lifeline for millions of Filipinos, especially those who lost their regular jobs during the pandemic. As the economy becomes more digital, there will be more freelancing. Without legal protections, we will also see more labor exploitation,” he said.

He added that the tax amnesty will allow freelance workers “steer clear of any pending tax liabilities that could prevent them from having better contracts.” — Gillian M. Cortez

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