House okays 'kasambahay' bill-A A +A
Thursday, September 6, 2012
MANILA -- The House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved on third and final reading a measure providing additional benefits to domestic workers or "kasambahays."
House Bill 6144 authored by 51 lawmakers, including former President and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, sets a minimum wage rate of P3,500 a month for domestic workers in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Domestic workers employed in first class municipalities are entitled to P3,000 a month while those working in other municipalities should receive P2,000 a month.
The Senate version passed in 2010, however, provides a minimum wage rate of P3,000 in Metro Manila, P2,500 in first and second towns and P2,000 for the rest of municipalities.
Aside from the monthly pay and basic necessities of food, board and lodging and medical assistance, kasambahays shall also receive a 13th month pay, and be provided by employers with Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance Inc., and Pag-Ibig Fund coverage.
An employment contract shall be executed between the domestic worker and the employer, which shall detail the period of employment, duties and responsibilities, and rest days and allowable leaves.
Under the approved measure, domestic workers are entitled to a daily rest period of eight hours a day, and at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in a week.
The bill also prohibits debt bondage or the rendering of service of a domestic worker to pay debt, and the employment of minors.
A penalty of P10,000 to P40,000 will face violators of the measure once it is enacted into law.
San Juan City Representative JV Ejercito, one of the authors, said at least 1.9 million kasambahays will benefit from the proposed law.
“After 15 years in the making, Congress has finally enacted a bill that is for the benefit of our 1.9 million kasambahays. This will be one of the major legacies the 15th Congress will leave behind,” he said.
In a press briefing, Senator Jinggoy Estrada is hoping that the household helpers will feel the effect of the law before the year ends.
A bicameral conference committee composed of representatives from the House and the Senate will be convened in two weeks to come up with a unified version of the bill that will be transmitted to President Benigno Aquino III for his signature.
"I can't really speculate why it took long (for the House) but I made communication with them to hasten the passage of the bill. This is also a priority legislation of Malacanang," Estrada said.
The bill was originally filed during the 10th Congress (1995-1998) and has failed to be enacted since then.
Last month, the Senate also ratified International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189, which provides for compulsory education and establishment of accessible complaint and dispute resolution mechanisms, among others. (Kathrina Alvarez/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)