ONEis the 18thth Congress closes in a few weeks, it is unlikely the Senate can still pass the proposed law on the protection of freelancers. The Senate Bill 1810 has been awaiting second reading in the Senate since September 2020. And despite declarations in August 2021 that it would be expedited for approval, the bill has not been passed into law.
The proposed law would have been a great help to those who freelance or do work for themselves, as opposed to being employed or being an entrepreneur running a small business. Freelancers include “professionals” paid for their skills, time, and output on a project basis, and whose work products can be considered intellectual property or IP.
The World Intellectual Property Organization defines IP as “the creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; design; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce.” Ideally, IP should be legally protected through the registration of patents, copyrights or trademarks. Locally, however, this is usually not the case.
It is in this line that freelancer protection becomes twice as important. Freelancers should at least be paid, and sufficiently enough, for the work they do or what they produce. In this way, while “rights” to and above the work product are “transferred” to those who have paid for it, the “creator” is first assured a proper compensation.
The problem is in fact the local market’s poor understanding of skills, time and e.g.ffor put into producing a work or a “creation,” so to speak. Just because a writer can gather 1,500 words in about an hour or two, does not necessarily mean he should be paid for only two hours of work. After all, it took years or mastering a skill, not to mention education and training, for that writer to achieve the ability to quickly put together an output of 1,500 words.
The same with photographers, whether he owns a studio or not, or he uses an expensive camera or just a cell phone to take pictures for a client. His photographs, digital or printed, can not be judged in relation to the time put in. It requires skill, mastery and experience for him to compose a well-thought-out photograph.
Writers, photographers and artists are, among others, the freelancers whom the Senate Bill of 1810 intended to protect. Include here coders or computer programmers and other IT professionals who carry out project work, and others in the so-called “gig” economy – or those who work on “gigs” or short-term contracts or short-term individual professional engagements. These may also apply to consultants or “professionals” who are consulted for their expertise in certain topics.
Freelancers are self-employed, although the latter term is more commonly used to refer to small business owners or professional partnerships as for lawyers and accountants. Freelancers are usually individuals who perform work on their own, just like individual contractors. As such, they do not normally enjoy legal protection granted to employees, contractors and business owners.
Freelancers must also pay income tax and issue official receipts. They are, afteh all, “professionals” – not because they practice a licensed profession, but because of the high level of skills, education or training they have for the kind or work or service they perform. These include “artisans” or skilled artisansft workers who manufacture or create material objects wholly or partly by hand.
Senate Bill 1810 defines a freelancer or freelancer as “one who offperforms or performs a task, work or service through its freely chosen means or methods, free from any form of financial dependence, control or supervision on the part of the client, whether he or she is remunerated according to results, piece, task, hour, day , job or the nature of the services required. “
So do theyfines freelance work as “work that is rare, unpredictable and
short-term and reproduced in person, online or through any online web platform, such as crowd-work, on-demand work or other digital lifestyle applications. “
The bill specifies “rights” or freelancers to include the following:
• Right to a written contract or agreement
• Right to fair compensation and equal remuneration for work of equal value without manipulation or distinction of any kind
• The right to safe and healthy working conditions
• Right to self-organization and to bargain collectively with the client and other entities to promote their welfare and promote their rights
• Right to social protection and social welfare benefits
• Right to prompt resolution of complaints, including alternative dispute resolution processes
With regard to freelancers who receive a salary, the bill also proposes that “unless otherwise provided in the contract entered into by the parties, the agreed compensation must be paid in full within 30 days after the completion of the task, work or the benefit. freelance work. “
Furthermore, freelancers should be recognized as also suitable for government work, where the Civil Service Commission should be mandated to “issue the appropriate rules and regulations applicable to freelancers in the public sector to ensure compliance with the rights and privileges granted to freelancers in under this Act, subject to applicable laws, regulations and rules for public sector workers. “
Freelancers can play a major role in today’s economy. With all the benefits offDriven by technological advances and given the need to ensure public health, especially during a pandemic, freelancers can play an important rolefican not help keep economies thriving even in times of crisis. Freelancing is also a great opportunity to provide employment to highly educated people who are unemployed.
The Senate Bill of 1810 would have gone a long way in promoting and protecting the rights of such professionals. However, the senators seem to have run out of time. It does not appear that the bill is scheduled for consideration in plenary in the remaining days of the 18th.th Congress. One can only hope that a similar, if not better, bill will be resubmitted and passed in the next Congress.
Marvin Tort is a former editor-in-chief of BusinessWorld and former chairman of the Philippine Press Council