Lower House approves 'Kasambahay Bill'

by Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2012 12:54 AM | Updated as of Sep 06 2012 09:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the so-called "kasambahay bill" that guarantees standards of protection to promote the welfare of domestic workers in the country.

Voting 176 in favor and none against, the chamber unanimously approved House Bill 6144 that will also carry out the commitment made by the Philippine government in setting acceptable standards for the employment of household helpers who include cooks, garderners, laundry workers and nursemaids.

Authored by Reps. Emil Ong (NUP, Northern Samar); JV Ejercito (PMP, San Juan City); Juan Edgardo Angara (LDP, Aurora); Alfredo Benitez (LP, Negros Occidental); Catalina Bagasina (ALE Partylist); Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Ang Bagong Henerasyon) and Kaka Bag-ao (Akbayan), the bill also set at 15 years old the age limit for recruitment of household helpers or kasambahay.

At least 100 other lawmakers co-authored the measure that was sponsored by the House Committee on Labor and Employment chaired by Ong.

The bill provides an employment contract between the employer and the domestic workers with the agreement written in a language or dialect understood by both of them.

Also included as among the mandated rights and privileges of household helpers are provisions for board, lodging and medical attendance; guarantee of privacy; access to outside communication and right to education and training.

The bill prohibits public disclosure by the employer of any communication or communication pertaining to the kasambahay.

HB 6144 imposes a prohibition in placing the domestic helper under debt bondage.

It also imposes work conditions that will include a daily rest period of at least 8 hours and weekly rest period of 24 hours per week.  It also bars assigning the kasambahay to "non-household work."

The minimum wage for domestic helpers will be set by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards within 90 days from the effectivity of the measure.
The domestic worker may resign anytime before the expiration of the contract under the following causes: verbal or emotional abuse; inhuman treatment such as physical abuse and commission of crime against worker, among others.

On the other hand, firing of a domestic worker may be caused by serious misconduct or willful disobedience; gross or habitual neglect or inefficiency in the performance of duties; commission of fraud or crime by the worker.

Violation of any of the provision of the measure will be punishable with a fine of not less than P10,000 to P40,000.

Bagasina lauded her colleagues for placing the measure in the list of House priorities. She admitted having worked as a kasambahay to finance her way into college education. She said the right to education is one of the laudable features of the measure.

Ong said a monthly basic salary of P3,500 for those employed in Metro Manila had been proposed but the committee decided to leave the wage issue to the RTWPB. - with a report from Jon Ibañez, dzMM