Domestic workers are called a friendly term in Manila “Kasambahay”: to emphasize they are part of the household. The bill is yet to be signed in Congress to provide legal recognition for the domestic workers and recognize the important role that Kasambahay plays in the building of the family and of society. Filipinos oftentimes depend on the services of domestic house helpers for the orderly management of their households. Unfortunately, even if they perform vital day-to-day functions, domestic house helpers are often mistreated subjected to physical and mental abuse and made to work under inhuman and brutal working conditions.
Although there are existing labor laws which seek to protect house helpers from these abuses, their implementation has been widely ignored. Moreover, these laws have become inadequate to fully address the concerns and needs of our house helpers. The kasambahay has the right to decent work which includes decent employment and income, humane conditions of work, access to and coverage in social protection schemes, and the opportunity for social dialogue and representation. This bill also recognizes the dignity and the nobility of the household helper industry.
Under this proposed legislation, the rights and interests of household helper are enhanced and protected by ensuring just and equitable terms and conditions of their employment are embodied in their contract with their employers. This proposed legislation is an affirmation of the value and dignity of every person and guarantee full respect for human rights. Body: Affirmative: The bill will ensure that household helpers will be provided with basic necessities and other benefits.
With House BillNo. 144, or the”Kasambahay Bill” passing its third and final reading in the House of Representatives, around two million domestic workers might soon enjoy standardized minimum wage and other basic benefits like health care, vacation leaves, and basic necessities. The bill mandates employers to enter into a contract with their helpers specifying the terms of the latter’s employment and job responsibilities. It will also require employers to provide for their helpers’ lodging, board, basic education, and medical needs. Employers are also not allowed to place their helper under debt bondage, nor are they allowed to employ minors to work for them.
The State affirms labor as a primary social force and has committed to protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare. It is party to international instruments pledging the elimination of forced labor, elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation, and the abolition of child labor and trafficking in persons. The State has adopted the Decent Work Framework outlining good conditions of work for Filipino workers, which includes establishing labor standards, decent employment and income, enhanced coverage of social protection and strengthened social dialogue, including kasambahays.
It seeks to uphold the rights and dignity of kasambahays to protect them from abuse and exploitation by providing safe and humane working conditions. Despite the vital and necessary work performed by kasambahays for most Filipino households and the important role they play in society, they are considered as one of the most vulnerable sectors in society due to the nature of their work. Of equal concern however, are employers of kasambahays who have equal rights to protection from abuse and exploitation of kasambahays.
The State further recognizes that kasambahays of minority age have special inalienable rights and privileges that should be espoused and protected, particularly in the areas of education and self-improvement. The State recognizes the importance of partnering with various groups and individuals in the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of kasambahays and enabling to be empowered members of society. Section 1 Article III of the Convention concerning decent work for domestic workers states that each member shall take measures to ensure the effective promotion and protection of the human rights of all domestic workers.
The passage of Kasambahay Bill is a fulfillment of the country’s commitment to the international community when it ratified the domestic workers convention. More importantly, this aims to protect the welfare of more than two million househelpers, nursemaids, cooks, gardeners and laundry persons all over the country. Article II of the Kasambahay Bill (formally titled Act instituting policies for the protection and welfare of the domestic workers) explicitly enumerates the rights and privileges of every domestic worker.
To wit: – The employer or any member of the household shall not subject a domestic worker to any kind of abuse or any form of physical violence or harassment. – The employer shall provide for the basic necessities of the domestic workers to include at least 3 adequate meals a day and sleeping arrangements that ensure safety. – The employer shall respect the privacy of domestic worker and shall extend the same to his/her communication and personal effects. – The employer shall grant the domestic worker access to outside communication. The employer shall afford the domestic workers to finish basic education and may allow access to alternative learning systems, higher education or technical and vocational training. The domestic workers shall also be entitled to a daily rest period of eight hours and a weekly rest period of least twenty-four consecutive hours. A domestic worker who has rendered at least one year of service shall be entitled to an annual service incentive leave of five (5) days with pay.
It shall also be unlawful for the employer to place the domestic workers under debt bondage or the rendering of service as security or payment for a debt. Any violation of the act shall be punishable with a fine not less than 10,000 pesos without prejudice to the filing of appropriate civil and criminal action. Some provisions of this measure are in response to reported incidents of abuse and exploitation against our kasambahay and prevent them from happening of service. Rebuttal: On the other side of the argument, Kasambahay Bill is a messy, impractical.
If not politically motivated, the Kasambahay bill is profound in theory, but in practice, it is messy and not practicable. First, not all housemaids are born equal, so to speak. Some come from recruiting agencies, others are walk-ins, and some others are poor, rescued distant blood relatives. It is so easy and noble to fix their salaries, give them the regular employee’s perks, benefits and bonuses, but the fact remains that our house helps are not employees at all because they have an entirely different, if incomparable, daily work routine. How can a housemaid be compared to the egular employee who commutes or drives to work, spends stressful time on the road and money just to get to work? That’s why employees and/or laborers are given fixed wages and all those perks and bonuses.
And culturally and traditionally, our housemaids are not our employees but “family,” simply because they live with us. Some of them are even considered second mothers to the children of a busy working mother. If the Kasambahay bill becomes a law, it should apply only to housemaids hired from agencies, with a written contract that stipulates nature of tasks, salary, benefits, bonuses, etc.
But then, considering the ramifications of the law, can the hiring family in turn charge the housemaid for board and lodging, granting he/she is a stay-in? It is therefore possible that many hardworking housemaids will lose their job and/or not be hired at all. At most, a Kasambahay law should be applied on a case-by-case basis. While the rich and the business sector may welcome it because they can afford the demands of the law. Conclusion: The kasambahay bill should enacted into law after 15 years in the making because itis for the benefit of our 1. million kasambahays nationwide.
It provides minimum labor standards, including minimum wage setting, regulating working hours, provision of insurance and leave benefits for household helpers. This pro-poor measure stands to benefit the almost two million domestic workers we have throughout the country. Aside from the pay standardization, the House Bill 6144 also assured all domestic helpers of entitlement to a 13th month pay, coverage in the Social Security System, and all the benefits provided under Republic Act 8282, as amended.
Also theKasambahay bill requires employers to provide three basic necessities —board, lodging and medical assistance, to their household help, nursemaids, cooks, gardeners and laundry persons. The Kasambahay bill seeks for the protection of local household workers from physical and emotional abuse. One of the highlights of the bill is the comprehensive package since it entitles our kasambahays of food and medical provisions, allowable holidays and days off, provision of a written contract, proper accommodation, social security and PhilHealth coverage, annual salary increases and medical certificates, among others.
Courtney from Study Moose
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