Kasambahay bill revived in Lower House

Posted at 10/14/10 2:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A party-list lawmaker has revived the Kasambahay Bill, which seeks to ensure and protect the rights of household workers.

Diwa party-list Rep. Em Aglipay said House Bill 1815 prescribes a Magna Carta for household helpers including family drivers, babysitters, gardeners, cooks and laundrywomen. 

In a press conference, Aglipay urged President Benigno Aquino III to certify the measure as urgent. She said a counterpart bill has already been filed by Sen. Loren Legarda in the Upper Chamber.

"Unlike workers in companies where the labor department has visitorial powers, it is hard to enforce correct work hours and rates of pay for household workers. If this bill is passed, these workers will have something concrete to show before the courts and say that these provisions are not being followed. Employers will be compelled to follow if the law is passed," she told reporters.

The proposed measure protects the kasamabahay from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and even bars household workers from handling or transporting heavy loads without proper assistance.

The bill bars any work in hazardous environments; any work that requires them long hours and late nights; any form of slavery and prostitution or pornography among others.

It also provides for benefits like a work contract, allowable days off and holidays, living quarters and food and medical provisions, Social Security System benefits and Philhealth coverage, annual salary increases and medical certificates as a prerequisite for employment.

It prescribes a minimum wage of P3,500 monthly for those employed at the National Capital Region, P3,000 for those in other chartered cities and 1st class municipalities, and P2,000 for those employed elsewhere. It also states that the compensation shall be in addition to food, lodging and medical attendance.

The Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards may determine the minimum wages.

Under the bill, household workers should also get 13th month pay and cannot be required to work more than 6 days a week, 10 hours a day. They also get 14 days of vacation leave yearly. They also get maternity and paternity leaves.

The bill also states that household workers should not be deprived of access to outside communication. They must not be barred from bonded labor and should be granted access to 3rd party labor mediation. Those aged 15-18 cannot be required to work more than 8 hours a day and cannot work between 10pm to 6am.

Parents or wards of batang kasambahays (household workers who are minors) cannot collect their salaries for them.

Aglipay said household workers should not be deprived access to formal education and opportunities for self improvement. All kasambahays shall be entitled to overtime pay and to work in shifts especially for those watching over kids.

She said work contracts cannot be preterminated without just cause by either parties. The prescriptions for work loads shall be contained in the bill’s implementing rules and regulations if it becomes law, she added.