Speak Out: Batas Kasambahay - A victory for domestic workers

AFTER 18 years of relentless campaigns, the landmark legislation known as the Domestic Workers’ Act or Republic Act 10361: An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers was passed by Congress in the last months of 2012 and signed by President Benigno Aquino III on January 18, this year.

We, the Visayan Forum Foundation Inc., the leading organization that pioneered campaigns in the country for the rights of domestic workers hand in hand with the Samahan at Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawang Pantahanan sa Pilipinas (Sumapi) and other partners, are elated at the news and excited at what this can translate into for the millions of domestic workers in the country.

This is a victory for all domestic workers and we congratulate them as much as we encourage them to know the law because only then can the law serve its purpose – to protect and promote the welfare of domestic workers.

Visayan Forum is known for its more than 20 years of innovative work to end modern-day slavery. Despite the crisis that the organization is embroiled in, it has not abandoned its commitment to policies that promote decent rights for domestic workers and anti-human trafficking.

Batas Kasambahay requires both employer and the domestic worker to execute a contract of employment, thereby effectively protecting both parties. It not only sets the minimum wage of a domestic worker, it also ensures that they are duly registered by their employers in social benefit systems such as the Social Security System, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth.

It also protects the right of a domestic worker to access educational opportunities.

Further, the law enjoins the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards to adjust the minimum wage rates accordingly, after the Law’s first year of effectivity.

Apart from debt bondage, the law also declares some acts as unlawful, especially those that take advantage of a domestic workers’ vulnerability, promote harsh conditions of work, and interferes with the worker’s right to his or her wage.

Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda
President, Visayan Forum Foundation Inc.
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