ABS-CBNnews.com | 02/01/2013 11:29 PM
MANILA, Philippines -- When will the Kasambahay Law really take effect?
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Friday admitted that the effectivity date of Republic Act No. 10361 or An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers remains unclear.
"Ang effectivity ng batas doon sa law itself ang sinasabi 15 days after its complete publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two publications of general circulation," Baldoz told radio dzMM.
She said since the copy published in the Official Gazette last January 18 was not complete, they would have to refer to the date of its publication in the Manila Bulletin and the Philippine Star, which was last January 25.
This means the day of the law's implementation would fall on February 10, she said.
However, Baldoz said another provision of the law states that it will only take effect after they have finished formulating the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
"Kami ay medyo humihingi pa ng siguro until Monday, meron pang mga ipinari-research kami at isa na itong unang naitanong mo sa 'kin [sa effectivity] dahil may dalawang probisyon," she said.
"Isa talagang tuwirang sinasabi na effective na ito after publication. Isa naman sinasabihan lang kaming gumawa
kami ng implementing rules within a period of 90 days," she added.
Baldoz also said they are still reviewing some provisions of the Kasambahay Law that have brought confusion among some domestic workers and employers.
"'Yung mga klaseng probisyon like 'yung sa beneifts na 'di na kailangang linawin...ay effective as of February 10. Pero 'yung mga probisyon na kailangan pang pagusapan,
kailangan nun talagang malinaw sa implementing rules," Baldoz said.
She said while the DOLE has already made a draft of the IRR, they still want to consult it with other concerned government agencies as well as representatives from the
sectors of the employers and domestic workers.
"Ang plano namin e mas lawakan pa ang konsultasyon sa draft rules na ilalabas namin. Totoong meron na kami na DOLE draft...pero dahil ilang agencies ng gobyerno ang kailangan pang mag-usap, mas maganda na ilalabas
namin sa publiko ay 'yung amin nang napagkasunduan for purposes of consultation," she said.
"Meron tayong formal na mekanismo, ito 'yung Tripartite Industrial Peace Council meron 'yan sa region, meron sa
national but ang karamihan ng nakokonsulta talaga dito na mai-invite 'yung mga homeowners association at ito namang mga kasambahay meron silang mga workers association," she added.
Benefits, basic necessities
Under the new law, employers will be required to pay for the social security benefits contributions of domestic workers.
But it is still unclear if there would be a penalty imposed on the employers if the domestic workers are the ones who decide that no benefits be paid for them, Baldoz said.
"Talagang kailangan din naming itanong 'yan sa SSS, kung ang current program ba nila ay pag may ganyang batas automatic na mandatory 'yan? At 'yung ayaw magbayad would that be acceptable?"
The DOLE secretary also clarified that the basic necessities employers should provide for their employees only include shelter and food -- and not shampoo, soap and toothpaste, among others.
"Hindi naman kailangang isama sa obligasyon ng employer 'yan," she said.
Baldoz added that employers are not required to enrol their employees to school.
However, they should allow their employees to study and go to school if the domestic workers want to.
"Ito ay hindi mandatory kasi parang issue mo lang 'yung access, making the necessary arrangements particularly
sa kanyang schedule ng work," she said.
Baldoz said these issues under the Kasambahay Law prove that they still have a lot of work to do.
She said they really need to make a thorough review of the law's IRR to make sure that they are able to balance the interests of both the employers and the domestic workers.
"Mas mahihimay ang implementing rules kung maraming katanungan pa ang makararating sa amin," Baldoz said.
'Kasambahays' as professionals
Baldoz said the DOLE is also eyeing to professionalize the sector of domestic workers.
She said they will be asking assistance from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in giving proper training for those who want to apply as domestic workers.
"Plano na nga namin in the long term, itong ating kasambahay, professionalize na 'yung sector na ito kasi
malaki ang portion nito sa service sector, sa ating work force sa ating employment," she said.
"Kaya 'yung probisyon dun sa TESDA ang isa naming gustong i-discuss 'yung possibility na talagang kung first
timer ka ay required sa 'yo 'yung training at makakuha ka
ng basic skills, assessment and certificate on housekeeping, ang tawag diyan ay national certificate 2," she added.
Baldoz said this would widen the job opportunities for domestic workers, noting that they would then have a "ladderized career path."
"Magpapagawa kami sa TESDA ng kanilang parang ladderized career path na hindi ka nananatili na isang
ordinaryong housekeeper o domestic helper. Kasi as you
do your job, you acquire so many skills at pwede kang magkaroon ng vertical upgrading ng iyong career. At meron din naman horizontal kasi pwede kang pumunta sa hotel and restaurant industry, nursing care industry," she said.
But Baldoz clarified that those who have already been working as domestic workers would not need to undergo training under TESDA anymore.