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Bill granting gig-economy workers employee status filed in Senate


A BILL establishing an employer-employee relationship between online platforms and gig-economy workers has been filed in the Senate, which will bar workers, including freelancers, from being treated as an independent contractor.

Senate Bill 1373 is known as the proposed Protektadong Online Workers, Entrepreneurs, Riders at Raketera Act, filed on Oct. 6. It also requires that workers undertaking jobs for online platforms be paid hourly or on a per-task basis, with pay equivalent to minimum wage, as well as benefits.

“Because work conditions in the gig economy are often unstable, workers in this sector are more affected by economic shocks and the lack of clear rules,” Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, the bill’s author, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“They need a steady income and dependable benefits so that they can receive something in case of illness, pregnancy or retirement,” she added.

The bill defines an online platform as a digital service that facilitates interaction between two or more distinct but interdependent sets of users, whether persons or juridical entities, who interact through the service by way of the internet.

Online platform workers are those performing specific services mediated, organized, or allocated by an online platform, regardless of employment status under Philippine law.

The bill requires the Labor department to issue rules that ensure online platform workers are not misclassified as independent contractors, self-employed or any other classification falling outside the employer-employee relationship. 

“Correct determination of the employment status should be guided primarily by the facts relating to the actual performance of work, and not by how the relationship between the online platform worker and online platform provider is contractually identified,” according to the bill.

If passed, online platform workers can organize, collectively bargain and negotiate with providers. The bill also requires that they be informed about any decision or action, taken or assisted by an algorithmic system, affecting their employment or working conditions.

The bill will seek to hold online platforms liable for injuries sustained by workers in the performance of their duty, especially delivery riders. 

Online providers must ensure workers are enrolled in government social protection programs such as the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and Social Security System (SSS). Female workers must be provided SSS maternity benefits upon childbirth.

Gig workers “have been bearing the risk of labor abuses due to gaps in our laws and policies. It’s time we put their sufferings to an end,” she added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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