Kasambahay law

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


CLEARLY, with the Kasambahay Law or Republic Act 10361, the domestic workers’ standing in the Filipino family that has withstood decades of practice by generations of Filipinos would be altered.

Frankly, I cannot imagine domestics who have lived with a family for years suddenly calling family elders Sir and Ma’am instead of Manoy or Manang, Tiya or Tiyo, Dodong or Inday. The point is that the law imposes changes by legal fiat on many old practices.

Reaction to the approved law, which would reportedly take effect this week, is mixed.

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Domestic workers would now be enjoying certain benefits and rights that elitist employers in urban centers may have been denying them. These include days off, paid annual leave, health, and social security benefits. Domestic workers in the National Capital Region would have a minimum monthly wage of P2,500. For chartered cities that would be P2,000.

In first class municipalities, the minimum pay for domestic workers is P1,500.

However, keen social observers have expressed concerns over what they see as “loopholes” that can also be disadvantageous to (domestic) workers that the law (truly) seeks to protect.

While the new law would “improve the working and living conditions of yayas, house helpers, laundry women, drivers, (and) gardeners,” I would have wished that it considered more the size of the family the domestic workers are serving, the business or source of livelihood of the family, and its social and economic status or standing.

The reason for this is that Filipino families differ in social and economic standing.

There are families that, because of the size or number of the members, may not be able to pay the minimum wage. On the other hand, some families are well to do in small towns and have fewer members but they are not required to pay their house helpers what they can more than afford to pay.

My point is that the Kasambhay Law is much too sweeping and roughly framed. It could be refined and made fairer and welcomed.

There is no doubt that the purpose of the law is to extend a just and better life to our domestic helpers. But it should not be done at the expense of our traditional warm relationship between and among family members and the house helps.

I recall that when World War II broke out, we evacuated and lived in the village and house of our house help. It was how my schoolteacher mother had treated our three helpers who were sisters. That would be quite difficult for the Kasambhay Law to intrude into and change.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 07, 2013.

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