House panel approves bill protecting freelancers

MANILA – The House Ways and Means Committee on Monday approved the tax provisions of a measure providing protection to freelancers in the country.

Committee chair Joey Salceda, who is also author of the bill, said tax amnesty provisions of the measure would help recover uncollected revenues while also helping freelancers “steer clear” of any pending tax liabilities that could prevent them from having better contracts.

The amnesty will cover income taxes under Section 24 of the Tax Code for freelancers earning less than PHP1 million a year. The applicable rate will be 2 percent of gross receipts above the first PHP250,000.

“My bill wants to ensure that there are legal rights, protections, and benefits to the more than 2 million freelance workers in the country. We saw the need to help them start afresh with their tax liabilities, so that they will be able to begin under new contracts with clean tax records,” Salceda said.

The bill would advance the rights and welfare of freelancers, ensuring them entitlement to humane working conditions and a proper living wage.

Among the protections included in the bill are the following: a framework for contracts between employers and freelancers; eligibility for nightshift differential for freelancers who are required to be physically present in the workplace or those on field assignments; and hazard pay for freelancers deployed in dangerous areas.

The proposal also makes it unlawful to pay the compensation due the freelancer later than 15 days after the date of payment of compensation stated in the written contract.

“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,” Salceda said. Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA –