MANILA, Philippines - Congress has passed and the President has signed a landmark law protecting domestic workers or "kasambahays."
Republic Act 10361 or An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers takes effect next month. It states that the kasambahay should not be subject to any kind of abuse.
The employer and the domestic worker must also have an employment contract to include duties and responsibilities, compensation, rest days and allowable leaves.
The law also sets the minimum wage for domestic workers in Metro Manila, chartered cities, first class municipalities, and in mother municipalities.
DIWA party-list Representative Emmeline Aglipay says the new law is not one-sided, with the employment contract protecting both the employer and the domestic worker.
"If there are instances when they refuse to do work or they go on leave that is more than what they agreed on, or if with respect to other benefits aside from those given in the law they agree on but conditions were not met, then the employer has means to go to DOLE and file a complaint and has reason to terminate contract," she said in an interview on ANC's "Talkback."
Aglipay said the law also provides reasons for so-called "justified termination" and allows employers to get indemnity if the domestic worker leaves before the contract ends.
Lilibeth Masamloc, a former domestic worker who was part of the technical group that crafted the Kasambahay Bill, says the key is for employers to discuss terms with domestic workers before hiring them.
"Siguro kailangan natin i-define or i-assess yun needs natin sa bahay. Proper orientation, masinsinang pag-uusap bago i-employ yung domestic workers, ay talagang nakakatulong. Sa paraan na yun nakikita mo rin kung ano yung strength and weaknesses nung domestic worker na na-hire mo. Minsan hindi natin tinatrato na manggagawa yung mga kasambahay," she said.
To keep track of the law's implementation, the Department of Labor and Employment is tasked to create a Registry of Kasambahay nationwide and to come up with a system to register domestic workers.
Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad says DOLE will come out with a standard contract that will not conflict the Kasambahay Law.
DOLE will also enforce a system of licensing and regulation to ensure the protection of domestic workers hired through private employment agencies.
ANC HEADSTART, January 29, 2013