Women’s Commission lauds Kasambahay Law

Domestic workers, most of whom are women, will now have a more defined labor rights and privileges with the passage of Republic Act 10361 (An Act Instituting for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers) on January 18.

About 91.2 percent of live-in domestic helpers are women, according to the 2012 Labor Force Survey of the National Statistics Office (NSO).

The law recognizes the vulnerability of household workers, especially women, to various kinds of abuses. These abuses happen “because household work is hidden from public view and lowly regarded,” says Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Chairperson Remedios Ignacio-Rikken.

The new law, Rikken said, conforms with the standards adopted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and seeks to improve the condition of kasambahays. In 2012, the Philippines ratified the ILO Convention 189 (Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers). It states that domestic workers are entitled to reasonable working hours, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, and respect for fundamental principles and rights at work.. “Kudos to the main proponents of the law and to President Aquino,” Rikken added.

To govern employer-employee relation, a formal contract shall be signed by both parties. The law also increases the minimum wage of domestic workers to a minimum of P2,500 a month in the National Capital Region; P2,000 a month in chartered cities and first class municipalities; and P1,5000 a month for those employed in other municipalities.

Other rights and privileges accorded to domestic workers include prohibition to debt bondage, opportunity to finish basic education and access to alternative learning systems, and five-day annual leave benefits.

Further, kasambahays are entitled to Social Security System (SSS) coverage, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG, with premium payments shouldered by employers if the workers receive a monthly salary below P5,000.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is expected to come out soon with the guidelines regarding the law’s implementation. Rikken hopes for a “significant decline” in maltreatment and other abuses against domestic workers, especially women.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Employment Statistics (BLES) show that women household workers spend longer hours of work per week than their men counterparts (52.1 vs. 51.4) but receive lesser average daily basic pay compared to men ((P123.20 vs. P188.17).