Republic Act No. 10361, also known as the ‘Domestic Workers Act’ or ‘Batas Kasambahay’ was signed into law on 18 January 2013 by President Benigno S. Aquino III; and the same became enforceable on 04 June 2013 or fifteen (15) days after the publication of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on 19 May 2014 in the Philippine Star and the Manila Times.
Unfortunately, already more than a year from its promulgation, stakeholders are still left in a big quandary as to how they are going be affected by the said Republic Act. And to be perfectly candid, this quandary is brought upon by only one thing, and that is, the employer’s concern to his own well-being. In other words, employers are more wary of keeping themselves from possible prosecution, than in estimating, at the very least, the noble intentions and objectives of the law. Unfortunately, what is more bothersome is this: as for the employees, i.e., the domestic workers or kasambahays, they are either ignorant or just plain apathetic about the matter. This, despite the fact that they are the stars of this new piece of legislation.
Be that as it may, Batas Kasambahay is here, having the full force and effect of law, thus, there is no other way but to comply.
What then are the requirements for minimum compliance? What are the barest essentials an employer should know? Indeed, only knowledge will mitigate the growing restlessness among employers, this author included.
To start, it is incumbent to know who domestic workers are for they are the ones covered by this act. And what better way to do this than to refer to Art. 1 Sec. 1(d) of Batas Kasambahay. Accordingly, a domestic worker or kasambahay refers to any person in domestic work within an employment relationship such as, but not limited to, the following: general househelp, nursemaid or yaya, cook, gardener, or laundry person, but shall exclude any person who performs domestic work only occasionally or sporadically and not on an occupational basis. Apparently, based form this definition, the trusted family driver is not a domestic worker for purposes of this law.
Secondly, an employment contract is now a mandatory requirement. One that is in the language or dialect known to the employee and must contain the following:
- Duties and responsibilities of the domestic worker;
- Period of employment;
- Authorized deductions;
- Hours of work and proportionate additional payment;
- Rest days and allowable leaves;
- Board, lodging and medical attention;
- Agreement on deployment expenses, if any;
- Loan agreement;
- Termination of employment; and
- Any other lawful condition agreed upon by both parties.
For easy reference, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) provided a sample employment contract called ‘Form BK-1’ in its official website (http://ncr.dole.gov.ph). The same is ready for download to those who may be interested.
As regards the pay, such must not be less than PhP 2,500.00, if employed in the National Capital Region (NCR); PhP 2,000.00, if in cities and first-class municipalities; and PhP 1,500.00 if in other municipalities. And the mode of payment: cash, at least once a month; together with a thirteenth-month pay which shall not be less than one-twelfth (1/12) of the employee’s total basic salary earned in a calendar year. Moreover, after a year of service, the domestic worker shall also be entitled to a five-day Service Incentive Leave (SIL), with pay. All these should be indicated in payslips as another mandatory requirement. Again, said payslips can also be downloaded in the DOLE website.
Needless to say, the foregoing amount is apparently below the minimum wage set by the Regional Tripartite Wage Regulatory Board (RTWRB) for ordinary employees. This is so because employers of domestic workers are required to provide board, lodging and medical assistance. The composition of which include:
- At least three (3) adequate meals a day, taking into consideration the kasambahay’s religious beliefs and cultural practices;
- Human sleeping condition that respects the person’s privacy for live-in arrangement; and
- Appropriate rest and medical assistance in the form of first-aid medicines, in case of illness and injuries sustained during service without loss of benefits.
- For live-out arrangement, the kasambahay shall be provided for rest and access to sanitary facility.
Now, the infamous portion of the law, the social and other benefits. So infamous that Filipino employers equate Batas Kasambahay to simply mean the mandatory and non-negotiable registration of domestic workers to the Social Security System (SSS), PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG, together with its concomitant payment of monthly premium contributions. The entire amount is for the account of the employer except when the domestic worker receives a salary of PhP 5,000.00 and above. In such case, proportionate sharing sets in.
What a trouble, isn’t it? How ironic will it be to see employers queuing up to these government agencies just to register their domestic workers and pay the latter’s required premium contributions. Isn’t tacking the same to the domestic worker’s monthly pay substantial compliance to the requirement of the law? Apparently not. Again, this is mandatory and non-negotiable.
The next best thing, online registration.
The initial step is to secure from the National Statistics Office (NSO), a copy of the birth certificate of the domestic worker. A process that will only take 2-3 days as explained in www.NSOHelpline.com. Once armed with the birth certificate, the registration can be effected online. These sites will be helpful, thus: www.sss.gov.ph, eregister.philhealth.gov.ph, and www.pagibigfundservice.com. Thereafter, everything is set save for the monthly payment of premium contributions.
As a caveat, it bears stressing that the foregoing pieces of information do not encompass the entirety of Batas Kasambahay. These are but mere essentials as opined by the author. The only guaranty is that compliance with the same will drastically reduce the chance, to the point of nil, of being prosecuted under this law. At any rate, it is good to know that the penalty is simply a fine of not less than PhP 10,000.00 but not more than PhP 40,000.00 without prejudice to the filing of appropriate civil or criminal action by the aggrieved party.
Although, as of this writing, there is yet to be a report relative to any prosecution under Batas Kasambahay, it is still best to be prudent. You wouldn’t want to be the first, would you?