“We are hopeful that this landmark piece of legislation for two million kasambahay can be signed into law by President Aquino before the year ends. This would be a perfect Christmas present to our hardworking helpers,” said Aurora Rep. Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, one of the authors of House Bill No. 6144 or the Domestic Workers Act.
Members of the bicameral meeting agreed to set the minimum wage of domestic workers at no less than P2,500 a month for those employed in the National Capital Region; P2,000 a month for those employed in chartered cities and first class municipalities;
After one year from its effectivity, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards are mandated to review and adjust the minimum wage rates of domestic workers as needed.
Aside from pay standardization, domestic workers will be entitled to other social benefits provided under existing laws. They would become members of Social Security System, Philhealth, and Pag-Ibig Fund. Premium payments will be shouldered by employers if the helpers receive a monthly salary below P5,000.
If salary is P5,000 and above, payment of SSS and Pag-ibig contributions will be shared by both the employer and helper, while Philhealth premiums will still be paid in full by the employer. The reconciled bill also entitles domestic workers who have rendered at least one year of service an annual service incentive leave of five days with pay, as well as 13th month pay.
Furthermore, employers are prohibited from placing their helpers under debt bondage, as well as from hiring minors below 15 years. They must also allow their helpers to finish basic education and access higher education, technical and vocational training, or other alternative learning systems.
“We’ve agreed that employers should adjust the work schedule of the domestic worker to allow such access to education or training without hampering the services required by the employer,” noted Angara, Chair of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education. “This is a great way of opening up opportunities for helpers to finish schooling and explore other employment options,” he said.
Meanwhile, all labor-related disputes will be elevated to the regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment, while ordinary crimes or offenses would be filed with regular courts.
“This measure sends a strong message to employers: helpers have rights and they have recourse against abuse. Employers should think twice about maltreating their kasambahay,”
Apart from Angara, House conferees of the bicam committee were Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong, Chair of the House Committee on Labor and Employment; Cagayan Province Rep. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jr.; Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez; Akbayan Party-list Rep. Walden Bello; Valenzuela Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo; Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin; Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman; and Zambales Rep. Ma. Milgaros Magsaysay.
Meanwhile, Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment, Loren Legarda, Pia Cayetano, Bong Revilla Jr., and Lito Lapid were the members of the Senate panel.
The legislators are looking forward to ratifying the reconciled version of the Senate and House Kasambahay Bills within this week or early next week, and forward the Congress-approved copy to Malacanang for the President's signature.