An April 18, 2013, press release from the Department of Labor and Employment
Even while the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on the recently enacted Kasambahay Law is being completed, Secretary of Labor and Employment Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday has already urged household service workers (HSWs) and employers to prepare themselves for a paradigm shift that will professionalize domestic workers in the Philippines and abroad, at the same time advocating the use of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE)’s Career Information Pamphlet as a guide. “The Kasambahay Law is a landmark piece of labor and social legislation that recognizes for the first-time domestic workers as similar to those in the formal sector. It, at the same time, strengthens respect, protection, and promotion of the rights and welfare of domestic workers,” Baldoz said.
“This is the paradigm shift that we speak of; and part of our strategy in raising the level of public knowledge and understanding, aside from online posting of the government’s version of the IRR and public consultations through social media, is the release of information, education and communication materials (IECs) like the career information pamphlet on HSWs,” she added.
According to the pamphlet, an HSW is internationally defined as someone who does a variety of household maintenance. Typically living in his/her employer’s residence, an HSW is usually in charge of preparation of meals, cleaning the dishes, doing laundry, providing care for employer’s children, and general house helping chores.
While most HSWs have high school diplomas, it is not necessary as long as he/she is able to perform the task. The employable age for a kasambahay is 15 years old; but rules and regulations on working children shall be applied for those below 18 years old.
“Most of us often forget that our house help serves us so we can pursue our dreams, and careers, and so we can go to places while they man and keep our homes spic and span. With this law in effect, domestic helpers may now enjoy protection from physical and emotional abuse and allowing them to pursue education and training for development of skills,” Baldoz explained.
She also added that employers should not lose sought of the fact that, as their occupational title implies, “Kasambahay” means “kasama sa bahay” and hence, part of the household or family. “Thus, we should accord them with proper respect and dignity,” Baldoz said.
The law provides that HSWs can also use their job as a stepping-stone for better career opportunities. In most cases, HSWs continue their studies by attending night school.
“Knowledge and skills are acquired mainly through years of experience; but I encourage them to at least obtain additional training so they could vie for more opportunities and enjoy career growth,” Baldoz said, adding:
“Employment opportunities abound for HSWs not just in major cities across the country but overseas as well. Major destinations for HSWs abroad include countries like Hong Kong, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Singapore.”
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), through authorized training centers, offer Household Services Training and Certification), at a cost ranging from P2,000 to P5,000. A National Certificate II-level certification, valid for five years, will be given to students who were able to complete the course. NC II-certification assures an employer of competent and quality domestic services and, at the same time, assures HSWs better compensation.
The monthly minimum wage rates for domestic workers, as stated in the Kasambahay Law, are as follows: National Capital Region – P2,500; cities and first class municipalities – P2,000; and other municipalities – P1,500. The salary range may even go up to P5,000 with better training and experience.
Toward this end, the labor and employment chief bared that “the purpose of the law is to not only protect substantial rights and provide better privileges, but also to prepare domestic workers to become more productive citizens of the land.”
On January 18, President Benigno S. Aquino III signed into law the Kasambahay Bill, which has been the most fitting gift that the government has given to over 2.9-million Filipino domestic helpers.
The law fulfills the country’s obligation to enact a national legislation in compliance with the International Labor Organization’s Convention 189, which sets new international standards for the protection of household helpers.
(The Career Information Pamphlet on HSWs is available in hard copy upon request and on-line from the Bureau of Local Employment at www.ble.dole.gov.ph.)