MANILA, Philippines - Household helpers may soon enjoy government-mandated benefits, including a 13th month pay, with the passage in both chambers of Congress of a bill upholding their rights.
"Hopefully before the year ends," said Senate labor committee chairman Jinggoy Estrada when asked when the so-called "kasambahay bill," once turned into law, can be implemented.
The proposed law was passed on final reading at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 5. The Senate approved its counterpart measure in December last year.
The conflicting provisions of the House and Senate versions of the bill will have to be reconciled in a bicameral conference committee. Estrada said the bicameral conference meeting has not been scheduled yet.
The final version will then have to be ratified by the House and Senate, and then sent to the President for his signature to be enacted into law.
Estrada said the bill's passage is long overdue. Believed to benefit some 2 million household helpers, the measure has been pending in Congress for a decade.
"Kailangan nating bigyan ng dignidad ang ating mga kasambahay," he said.
The bill seeks to protect the rights of domestic workers and ensure good working conditions for them. Among the benefits it seeks to provide are salaries of at least P3,000 for helpers at the National Capital Region, at least P2,500 for those in first and second cities and municipalities, and at least P2,000 for those in third and sixth class towns.
Employers will also be required to pay for their helpers' social security premiums, give them a 13th month pay, and let them take at least a day off from work every week.
The bill also imposes penalties provided for in the Labor Code for employers who abuse their helpers.
To monitor the law's implementation, local government units will require employers and their household helpers to register with them.