Bill proposes to protect independent laborers


Food delivery drivers are considered essential workers, especially amid the pandemic.
Reports on the suspension of a number of these independent workers for actions done by malicious elements prompted a senator to propose a bill that will cover their protection.


MANILA — Senator Joel Villanueva proposes a law that will protect independent laborers who earn their wages for short-term work. Like regular job holders in private companies, freelance workers on a per-job or per-task basis, need protection too.

Villanueva’s proposed Free Workers Protection bill, came amid the suspension of several food delivery drivers despite their classification as essential workers amid the pandemic.

“Essentially, a freelance worker is a person who works for himself, rather than for a company. While freelancers do take on contract work for companies and organizations, they are ultimately self-employed. However, freelancers are not considered employees but rather as contractors by the companies, they work for,” says the senator.

Villanueva raises the importance of food delivery drivers and called for the issuance of guidelines from the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) as well as a directive from the President to ensure protection and just compensation of food delivery riders and other “freelancers in the gig economy” while legislation to cover these workers is underway.

The first-time senator explains the Freelance Workers Protection bill (Senate Bill No. 1810) will define and recognize workers under freelance arrangement. These workers include food couriers and delivery riders.

“Trade and commerce has evolved as the pandemic hastened the use of gig platforms from food to grocery shopping. Our laws must capture new work arrangements that is why in the Senate, we have pushed for the passage of the freelance workers protection bill and the digital workforce competitiveness bill,” Villanueva points out.

The senator says the DoLE can issue an order to provide immediate relief to food delivery workers and other workers in the gig economy.

Villanueva says the services provided by workers in app-based platforms “who are basically paid on a per transaction basis will outlast the pandemic and shall become part of the way we buy and sell goods.” (TRC/Headline PH)


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