Challenges of Freelancers in the Philippines
Freelancing is becoming a popular industry and the number of freelancers in the Philippines is rapidly burgeoning. According to Prakarsh, VP – Strategic Partnerships at Truelancer, one can easily find freelancers in the Philippines which is the largest contractor country in terms of worked hours, and Philippines is the second largest in terms of revenue. From 2010 to 2014 alone, the freelancing industry contributed USD 190 Million; Cebu being the top performing province, with USD 15 Million worth of earnings.
Freelancing provides Filipinos access to more work, the freedom to choose the type of work and the people they work for, and an avenue to earn good money. It is no wonder that by the end of 2013, the number of freelancers from the Philippines was at one million (one-eighth of the total population of freelancers worldwide!).
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However, despite the continuous growth of the freelancers in the Philippines, there remain certain challenges for an average Filipino freelancer; to name a few – Taxation, Job Security, Benefits/Insurance, Protection etc. This article will discuss those challenges and offer possible solutions to each.
While freelancers do not pay tax in the Philippines, they should also know that their jobs are illegitimate or unrecognized by the state unless they register as a freelancing professional. This means that no matter how long you’ve worked in the freelancing industry if you did not register at the Bureau of Internal Revenue, you’re not backed by the government in that endeavor. Anyone can be a freelancer in the Philippines, which is good, as it provides an easy solution to the growing number of unemployed and underemployed. But in the long run, and with the business rapidly growing and considering its contributions to the economy, the government will eventually require freelancers to get themselves registered.
Freelancers should hold only themselves accountable. Registering oneself as a taxpayer is a responsibility of any decent law abiding citizen. The government cannot reach out to everyone to see who is freelancing and force them to register. Although, we are hopeful that in coming time, the government will be able to find a way to monitor both employees and employers. But for now, the responsibility rests on our shoulders.
2. Insurance and other Benefits
Apart from thousands of job opportunities from international communities and organizations, working in the freelance industry can also mean serious cash. The top earner freelancer in Cebu, for example, who held an administrative position earned USD 49K in just 12 months! But we Filipinos know far too well that money can slip from our hands as easily as sand, whether due to failed investments/business, due to illness or death of a family member etc. There lies the importance of insurance and benefits, which, unfortunately, freelancing has yet to offer. That’s why many freelancers still choose to have formal jobs – for Christmas bonuses and HMO cards. A possible Solution to this problem could be that the Government instructs various Insurance companies to formulate special insurance policies for Freelance professionals in Philippines, which could either be bought directly by the freelancer himself or can be sponsored by the Freelance Employer.
As critical as individual effort may be in addressing these fundamental issues that freelancers in Philippines face, government intervention is just as crucial, if not more. Just as we are mandated by law to register ourselves as taxpayers, the government can also mandate employers to offer insurance and benefits to its employees, through enacting policies geared towards protecting the rights of freelancers.
3. Job Security / Stability
Freelancers in the Philippines involve many and varied work types- from entry-level data encoding and transcription to professional graphic design or web developing, you name it! There are over two million businesses seeking over 2,500 skills, worldwide! However, despite thousands of job opportunities online, freelancers still face the natural problem of job security. Unlike traditional professions like teachers, lawyers, or doctors whose incomes are, more or less, regular and consistent, freelancers’ incomes depend mostly on projects and tasks which last a certain time. In this regard, freelancing can be likened to contractual workers where the job period is set. The job period depends on the type of work. For instance, in data encoding, the employer can give you 12 hours to finish the workload, with an agreed amount of payment per hour. When the job is done, the freelancer moves on to another one. They are on a perpetual job hunt because money comes in only so long as work does.
I can suggest nothing more but to be responsible freelancers. Job security is a problem that is inherent to the Freelancing Industry. Along with that, comes various benefits, Freelancing entails that people are Free to choose their jobs, Free to choose their boss, Free to choose their work schedules. Lack of stability is the downside of that freedom and we just have to deal with it. If you want security, do good in your work, earn money, and invest in insurance policies (also solves problem #2). There have been many success stories in the freelancing industry, and yours could be one of them if you choose to succeed.Challenges of #Freelancers in #Philippines #Filipino #Freelancing #VirtualAssistant Click To Tweet
4. Access to Fast Internet
The nature of online freelancing requires one to always be on-line, obviously. And in a country where people cry real tears for a 2-Mbps internet connection, we can see that the problem of connectivity can not be ignored. Especially considering that the fastest growing freelancing profession is Customer Support Representative, like Live Chat Operator, Phone Support or Email support. These jobs require a Fast and reliable Internet connection, which is no less than a luxury for an average Filipino Freelancer. Furthermore, access to freelancing is limited mostly to urban areas. Currently, the majority of freelancers are based out of Manila or they live in the developed cities of Cebu, Davao and Iligan, where subscribing to a fast internet connection is still possible. Freelance employment is yet to expand to rural areas, which is where the majority of the average freelancers are and where the need for freelance employment is high.
Regarding the issue of accessibility of a Fast and reliable Internet connection, the Department of Science and Technology Information and Communication Technology Office (DOST-ICT Office) has been working with online portals on how to have more Filipinos in rural areas earn a living online by extending Fast Internet Connection to rural areas in Philippines. We are hopeful for the results of this endeavor.
5. Employee Protection
While there are many legitimate freelancing sites like Truelancer.com, there is still the problem of Employee protection that needs to be addressed. Some sites tend to overlook illegitimate employers who are just looking for “happy concierge.” Also, there have been freelancers who fall for job openings like “women tutors” only to find men who want more than tutoring. Because of the worldwide connectivity that the freelancing industry offers between employers and employees, there is also the danger of employees falling into scammer-employers, and vice-versa.
Look for the Feedbacks on Employer’s profile before you bid for an unknown Employer’s Project. Freelancing websites like Truelancer have a strong Feedback collection system for the security of Employer’s as well as Freelancers. Just like Feedbacks on a Freelancer’s profile are his assets and represent the quality of their work; feedbacks on an Employer represent his behavior and sincerity. Be cautious about the Employers who have bad or no reviews.
The solution to most of these challenges lie with the people and the government policies. With enough collective effort and a strong political will to improve the Freelance Job opportunities in Philippines and lives of freelancers in Philippines, we could be the next major contributor to the ever-growing Service and Freelance industry in Philippines.Challenges of #Freelancers in #Philippines #Filipino #Freelancing #VirtualAssistant Click To Tweet [/sociallocker]
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I am a Freelance Virtual Assistant, Content Writer, a SEO Consultant and a Contributor on Truelancer Blog.