Pros and cons of the Kasambahay Law

By David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jan 28 2013 08:58 PM | Updated as of Jan 29 2013 04:58 AM

Pay hikes, severance, other perks of ‘kasambahays’ explained

MANILA, Philippines – Will more Filipino families lose their maids because of a new law for domestic workers?

Lawyer and former Quezon City vice-mayor Charito Planas raised this issue after President Aquino signed into law Republic Act No. 10361 or An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers.

Speaking to radio dzMM, Planas said some Filipino families might not be able afford a maid as a result of the new law.

Planas said she paid her current kasambahay P3,000 a month when she first hired her in 2010, and then raised the maid’s salary to P5,000 a month last year.

She said her maid enjoys a lot of perks including dining in restaurants, watching movies, and extra cash on her birthday.

“Ang inaalala ko yung mga kasambahay sa households na ang kinikita ay P10,000-P15,000 a month. Hindi kakayanin yan kasi nagpapapaaral ng anak. May pakain pa. Baka hindi ma-afford yan. Mumultahan ba sila?” she asked in an interview on DZMM’s “Rated Korina.”

RA 10361 defines "kasambahay" as any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship such as general househelp, nursemaid or “yaya”, cook, gardener, or laundry person.

It sets the minimum monthly wage of domestic workers at P2,500 for kasambahays in Metro Manila, P2,000 for those in chartered cities and first class municipalities and P1,500 for those in mother municipalities.

Catherine Legados-Parado, director of the Department of Labor and Employment Bureau of Working Conditions, said the new law lays out the rights and privileges of domestic workers.

“Kung di bibigyan ng tamang pasweldo ang kasambahay, pwede hong isyuhan ng order ng Department of Labor. We will declare na dapat silang magbayad ng tamang pa-sweldo. Ico-compute natin ang dapat na due sa kasambahay. Ilalagay namin yan sa [implementing rules and regulations],” she told radio dzMM.

Planas, however, noted that the new law could also strain relations between the employer and the kasambahay.

“Kakaba-kaba lagi yung...Mabuti na magkaroon ng konsiderasyon ang batas mismo na siguro ano ang mabuti sa side ng pinapasukan at side ng nagtatrabaho. Lagyan ng ‘O, ganito lang ang kita. Ganito ang ano.’ Para naman walang kabahan at walang sumbungan,’ she said.

Under the law, any violation of the Kasambahay Law provisions declared unlawful shall be punishable with a fine of P10,000 to P40,000. This is without prejudice to the filing of appropriate civil or criminal action by the aggrieved party.

It also states that all labor-related disputes shall be elevated to the DOLE Regional Office having jurisdiction over the workplace without prejudice to the filing of a civil or criminal action in appropriate cases.

WHEN KASAMBAHAYS POCKET BENEFITS

Some employers also questioned the provisions of the Kasambahay Law.

Renato Cruz questioned why the law puts the burden of paying the employee’s benefits on the employer. He said he used to give extra money to his kasambahays to pay for their SSS, PhilHealth and other benefits, only to find out that his maids were pocketing the money.

“Nagbibigay kami ng sobra sa sweldo to take care of the SSS. Yun pala, hindi siya pumupunta duon. Binubulsa niya. Nalaman namin na wala siyang SSS coverage. E sino mananagot nyan?” he asked.

“Kayod kami ng kayod. We don’t have time to make pila sa SSS at kung saan-saan ang government offices. Ang pilahan all day yan e. Wala kaming panahon para diyan. Sinasabi namin sa katulong pumila ka pero hindi naman ginagawa. Gumu-good time naman. Sino ang mananagot diyan?”

Cruz said that instead of making the employers line up to pay for their “kasambahays’” benefits, the DOLE should allow these added expenses to be included in the monthly pay and let the kasambahays pay for them.

He also suggested that the government put up a “one-stop shop” where employers can pay for their kasambahays’ SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG benefits.

“The katulong is the best person to do it. You give them the free time. E wala na - the contract should say the employer does not have liability in cases na ganun,” he said.

Parado admitted that under the new law, it is the employer who will be asked if he/she is paying for the kasambahay’s benefits.

“Obligasyon po kasi ng employer yun. In the end, siya pa rin yung tatanungin ng SSS, Philhealth at Pag-IBIG kung nagawa niya yung obligasyon yon na magbayad. Kapag dineny ng kasambahay, siya ang may violation,” she said.

She said the DOLE will consider the proposal to put up a one-stop shop. She also suggested that the employers send someone else to pay for the benefits.

FOREIGNERS COVERED BY KASAMBAHAY LAW

Parado said employers can hire “kasambahays” as young as 15 years old. She said kasambahays are entitled to all the privileges under the new law including weekly days-off, SSS, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG and all other benefits under existing laws.

The law states that if the kasambahay earns less than P5,000 a month, it is the employer who must shoulder the entire premium and contributions of the worker.

Parado said kasambahays who do not get complete benefits from their bosses can complain before any regional or field office of DOLE.

“There will be conciliation meeting and we will ask the employer to pay for the contributions,” she said.

The labor official said the new law also applies to foreigners who employ maids here in the Philippines.

“Basta working here in the Philippines at dito sumusweldo ang domestic worker (covered ng Kasambahay Law). Sa Kasambahay Law, hindi naka-determine kung foreigner or Pinoy,” she said.

PAY HIKES, SEVERANCE

Some kasambahays are also not happy with the new law.

Irene, a kasambahay for over 35 years, said the P2,500 minimum monthly wage for domestic workers in Metro Manila is too low. She said that while she earns more than that amount, she feels sorry for other maids who must make do with the P2,500 wage.

“Naaawa ako sa ibang kasambahay na all around sila pero P2,500 ang sweldo. Yun lang ang question ko dun. Kasi biro mo nag-aalaga ng bata, nagluluto pa, namamalantsa, naglalaba, tapos P2,500 lang ang sweldo. Nakakaawa po sila,” she said.

Parado said regional tripartite wages and productivity boards under the National Wages and Productivity Commission can review the minimum wage in the law.

“Ang nakalagay po sa batas, the RTWPB [Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board] can review and if it deems proper to increase wages, it can do that,” she said.

Another kasambahay, Lorna, also questioned DOLE if the new law includes a provision for severance pay.

“Halimbawa po matagal na kayo sa serbisyo. Ano yung separation fee? Required ba yun sa employer,” she asked.

Parado said that under the Labor Code, severance pay is issued for authorized causes including retrenchment or redundancies.

“Those situations do not happen in the household. Termination is only for just causes or authorized causes. There is no retrenchment or redundancy for kasambahays,” she said.

Under the Kasambahay Law, an employer can terminate the services of a kasambahay for the following reasons:

(a) Misconduct or willful disobedience by the domestic worker of the lawful order of the employer in connection with the former’s work;

(b) Gross or habitual neglect or inefficiency by the domestic worker in the performance of duties;

(c) Fraud or willful breach of the trust reposed by the employer on the domestic worker;

(d) Commission of a crime or offense by the domestic worker against the person of the employer or any immediate member of the employer’s family;

(e) Violation by the domestic worker of the terms and conditions of the employment contract and other standards set forth under this law;

(f) Any disease prejudicial to the health of the domestic worker, the employer, or member/s of the household; and

(g) Other causes analogous to the foregoing.

Parado said the new law states that any kasambahay fired without just cause shall be paid the compensation already earned plus the equivalent of 15 days work by way of indemnity. On the other hand, if the domestic worker leaves without justifiable reason, any unpaid salary due not exceeding the equivalent 15 days work shall be forfeited.

One employer, Lulu Liwanag, said she had to fire her kasambahay because she spent all her time on the cellphone.

“Kaya ko siya kinuha para may mag-alalay sa akin. Hindi e. Pag uwi namin dito sa bahay, nakahiga na siya sa sofa, mag ce-cellphone na siya. Kulang ang apat na oras ang pagce-cellphone nya. Pag nagta-trabaho, inuulit ko pa ang trabaho niya dahil sobrang dumi,” Liwanag, 75, said.

“Nagpapaligo ako ng aso tapos siya nasa sofa, nanonood ng TV,” she added.

Liwanag said she had to fire her maid because her attitude always made her blood pressure shoot up.

“E bago ako maghigh blood pinatanggal ko na. Paano naman kung ganoong klase ang nakuha mo? Walang ginawa kundi mag cell phone,” she said.

Parado said a maid who is habitually lazy can be fired for violating the terms of her contract.

“May ground siya na tanggalin kasi it can be classified as gross habitual neglect…. Kung hindi siya tumutupad sa terms and conditions ng kanyang contract, may grounds po siya,” she said.