Lawmakers seek SSS coverage of self-employed workers and craftsmen

LAWMAKERS have moved to further strengthen the standard of protection of self-employed workers and trade craftsmen by ensuring that all self-employed workers are covered by a social security program and shall be allowed to enroll as members of the Social Security System (SSS) under Republic Act 8282 or the Social Security Act of 1997.

Reps. Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur) and his mother, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), authors of House Bill 6718, said it is not only the duty of the State to protect the rights but also enhance the welfare of these specialized workers.

“Self-employment and entrepreneurship truly spurs economic activity and development,” Arroyo said.

According to Arroyo, self-employment and entrepreneurship are two essentials that go hand-in-hand because it empowers individuals to become self-made and successful.

The bill amends Section 8 (s) of Republic Act 8282 by expanding the definition and coverage of self-employed. Under the present law, self-employed is defined as any person whose income is not derived from employment.

Under the bill, a self-employed person is defined as someone who has own occupational capacity put to productive use by applying their own capital raised by themselves or with other self-employed persons pursuing related occupational interest.

In pressing for the immediate approval of the bill, Arroyo said “the pursuit of economic growth and development is spurred by capital put forth by entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs more often come from the ranks of specialized workers such as those from the self-employed and trade craftsmen sectors and offering their specific products or services.”

Arroyo said self-employed workers are entitled to occupational continuity, decent living wage and basic social benefits.

“These basic rights can be enhanced and strengthened through legitimate organizations duly organized under existing laws which are dedicated to protecting their rights and interests,” Arroyo stressed.

Under the proposed “Self-Employed Workers Protection and Enhancement Act of 2012,” all government agencies mandated to render services and extend social security are directed to ensure that all self-employed workers are covered by a social security program. They shall be allowed to enroll as members of the SSS.

The enrollment can be done directly by the self-employed workers or thru their respective guilds, craft unions, worker cooperatives or other associations acting as their collecting agent for premiums due to SSS.

Worker guilds, craft unions, worker cooperatives and other associations organized and representing self-employed workers are directed to register with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other regulatory government agencies.

Under the measure, training and certification by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) shall be accessible to self-employed workers in order to continuously enhance and upgrade the entrepreneurial and occupational capacity of self-employed individuals.

TESDA is mandated to enter into agreements with various associations of self-employed workers to effect this policy.

Government agencies with special concern on employment and poverty alleviation such as but not limited to DOLE, Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), DTI, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and all local government units (LGUs) are mandated to draw and adopt programs for the empowerment and encouragement of self-employment.

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