Govt urged to better protect freelancers

The government has been urged to provide more labour protection for freelancers, as a survey suggests that moving from gig to gig is becoming more popular among young people.

The Concern for Grassroots Livelihood Alliance says of 220 people aged between 15 and 34 it recently interviewed, 65 percent said they would prefer freelancing to fixed employment, and half already had experience as a freelancer.

Ninety percent of respondents thought that freelance workers have a “more flexible work schedule” and 67 percent said they were “more likely to work on the jobs they are interested in”.

Photography, modelling and graphic design were among the most common freelance jobs cited by the respondents.

But respondents also quoted “unstable income” and “a lack of labour protection” as their main concerns with freelancing, while some said they were also worried about an “unprofessional-looking resume” and “discrimination by friends and family”.

One of the respondents, 25-year-old Catherine, who works as a freelance gym instructor, model and private tutor, said her previous full-time job didn’t allow her to enjoy life.

“I want to spend time with my friends and family. And I want to have time and energy to develop my personal hobbies and it was really hard to do that. I had no time left after I got off my [full-time] work,” she told a press conference held by the alliance on Friday.

But Catherine said freelancing also has its downsides, in particular a lack of legal protection.

“There’s no standard template [of contract] for us to sign with our clients. I am lucky that I haven’t run into any conflicts… but then what if something happened? I don’t know who I could go to or what I could do with them. Ideally, I would love to have a contract to sign with them so that we can guarantee own rights,” she said.

In view of the concerns, the alliance called on the government to boost labour protections, including providing a standard contract template and monitoring recruitment platforms to prevent the exploitation of freelancers.