Kasambahay bill to benefit 2-M househelpBy Leila B. Salaverria, Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The “yaya,” cooks or gardeners who make domestic life a little bit easier for many Filipinos deserve a proper minimum wage and should be provided with basic necessities, health care and other benefits, according to the so-called “Kasambahay bill” passed on third reading in the House of Representatives late Wednesday.
The bill stands to benefit close to 2 million household helpers.
Under House Bill No. 6144, which seeks to institute regulatory policies for domestic work and establish standards of protection for their welfare, employers would be required to provide board, lodging, and medical assistance to their house helpers and to ensure their health and safety.
The measure also aims to set a minimum wage for the workers, to be determined by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards, as well as mandate their daily and weekly rest periods and leave benefits.
Employers would have to enter into a contract with their domestic workers, setting the latter’s duties and responsibilities, the period of employment, the authorized deductions from their salaries, loan agreement, and the termination of employment.
They are also prohibited from placing the domestic worker under debt bondage, as well as from employing minors as domestic workers. Employers must also give their helpers access to basic education and allow them to join organizations of their own choosing.
Protecting domestic workers is an important duty of the state, according to the bill.
“The state recognizes the need to protect the rights of domestic workers against abuse, harassment, violence, economic exploitation, and performance of work that is hazardous to their physical and mental health,” it said.
It added that the state wanted to establish labor standards for domestic workers so they can be assured of decent employment and income, enhanced coverage of social protection, respect for human rights and strengthened social dialogue.
Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara, one of the authors of the measure, said that this should goad employers into treating their house helpers better.
“The passage of this bill sends a strong message to abusive employers who mercilessly maltreat their ‘kasambahay,’” Angara said in a statement.
Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada said he would convene the bicameral conference committee as soon as the House could come up with the final list of its delegation members.
“As soon as the bicam report is finalized, I would report it out on the floor,” Estrada told Senate reporters in a weekly news forum.
Estrada, author of the Senate version of the bill, later said that he expected President Benigno Aquino to sign the bill into law before the year ends. The Kasambahay bill is an administration-backed measure.
P2,500 pay in Metro
The salient points of the Senate version include the setting of a minimum salary for house helpers at P2,500 a month in Metro Manila; P2,000 in chartered cities, first and second class municipalities; and P1,500 for third, fourth and fifth class municipalities.
It also provides for a 13th month pay for the helpers.
They would become members of the Social Security System, Philhealth, Employees Compensation Commission and Pag-Ibig Fund through contributions paid for by their employers, Estrada said.
If passed soon enough this year, does it mean the helpers should already receive their 13th month pay come December?
“Yes. Perhaps, it would be prorated for some. For instance, if you became employed only in October, you can’t have the entire 13th month pay,” Estrada said.
Senator Loren Legarda lauded the approval of HB 6144, the House version of Senate Bill No. 78 that was passed as early as December 2010.
Vice President Jejomar Binay also hailed the approval of the measure, saying “our (household helpers) deserve access to decent and humane work.”
Binay said employers were mandated to register their domestic helpers as members of the Pag-Ibig housing program and to pay a counterpart contribution.
“Under the law, domestic workers earning P1,500 and below shall contribute 1 percent of their salary, while those earning P1,500 and above shall contribute 2 percent of their salary. Their employers are required to contribute 2 percent as counterpart,” he said in a statement.