Editorial: The other side of “kasambahay”-A A +A
Sunday, January 27, 2013
THE Kasambahay Bill that was recently enacted into law is hailed as liberating and overdue by an estimated two to three million yayas or nannies, household helpers and family drivers in the country. The law lays down the minimum salary and employers’ obligations to provide social security, 13th month and other benefits to household helpers.
Yet Republic Act 10361, or An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers, also resurfaces employers’ grievance that legal and professional measures are lacking to protect and redress the rights of household employers abused by their helpers.
Home alone and abusive
John (real names not used) and his wife paid P4,000 as starting rate to a townmate of his wife to take care of their toddler. As the couple worked full-time and frequently traveled due to their jobs, they needed someone they could trust to leave, unsupervised, with their child.
Satisfied with their yaya’s performance after four months, they secured insurance for her and started an educational fund for their yaya’s own child, who was left with her parents in the province. They gave her paid leaves to go home for fiesta, her birthday and at year’s end, spanning before Christmas till after New Year.
When their toddler started nursery, the yaya asked for a raise. As she was now getting P6,000 every month, 13th month pay, insurance, paid weekly and yearly leaves, and the educational fund for her daughter, John and his wife negotiated with their yaya to maintain her compensation and other benefits.
The yaya agreed and stayed on. However, John later learned from their daughter that when he and his wife were not at home, a male friend of her yaya often came to “visit.” When John overheard the yaya teasing his daughter that somebody might kidnap her for ransom, he terminated her employment. It was not only difficult to trust and hire a replacement, the couple also had to help their daughter get over being left by her “Nanay (mother).”
Vulnerability on both sides
For Erica, a helper might be efficient but still have a messy personal life that spills over to affect the life of the family she or he is living with. The problem started when their teenaged kasambahay found a boyfriend in one of the trisikad drivers covering their subdivision.
After Erica learned that the boyfriend was suspected of using and pushing shabu, she asked her helper to break off the relationship, especially as her husband’s work often meant she, her young children and their helper were often alone at home at night.
One evening, as she passed the helper’s closed room, she heard a male voice speaking from inside. During another occasion, she found the helper and the boyfriend sleeping inside her room, without the couple’s knowledge. She later asked her helper to leave and filed a complaint with barangay officials, fearing that the couple might resent the helper’s termination or exploit their vulnerability.
For many busy urban families, household helpers provide needed support that deserves fair and just compensation and treatment respecting the dignity of the helper as person and worker.
The Kasambahay Law should be implemented. The registration of household helpers for social security should continue the process of mainstreaming what used to be part of the underground economy. Recruitment of village youths has long been exploited by human traffickers, as well as employment agencies that dupe naïve recruits.
Another challenge for government and the private sector is to train and professionalize household helpers so they are informed of their rights as well as their duties and obligations. Government should also regulate manpower placement agencies as complaints abound about practices that don’t benefit both the helpers and household employers.
By looking at all stakeholders’ concerns, government can ensure the well-being of the kasambahay and Filipino families.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 28, 2013.