'Kasambahay Bill' soon a reality

PROTECTION. Proponents of a House bill for domestic workers will be taken up before Congress takes another break. Photo by AFP

PROTECTION. Proponents of a House bill for domestic workers will be taken up before Congress takes another break.

Photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines - A law to guarantee the rights and benefits kasambahays or household workers has been almost 15 years in the making.

Proponents of House Bill 6144 claim they are now closer to sealing the Domestic Workers Act of 2012 after it was approved on second reading at the House of Representatives last Wednesday, May 30.

The bill, commonly known as the "Kasambahay Bill," is now expected for 3rd and final reading on Monday, June 4.

The Kasambahay Bill was filed in Congress to provide standards and protection in the employment of domestic workers, now totalling somewhere between 600,000 and 2.5 million. (Read more: Fast facts on Filipino domestic workers)

These data include maids, cooks, nannies, drivers, helpers, gardeners, and other household employees, working in around 1.8 million households, based on the July 2012 Labor Force Survey.

"The sector is an important source of employment for women – 11.5% of employed women are domestic workers," the Samahan at Ugnayan ng Manggagawang Pantahanan sa Pilipinas (SUMAPI) said in a statement.

According to the Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF), existing laws and provisions in the Labor Code do not address the current situation of domestic workers, including wage rates, working hours, and benefits.

"The Batas Kasambahay recognizes that domestic workers deserve the same legal rights and protections that are enjoyed by other workers," the VFF said in its briefer on the bill.

The bill is expected to institute new minimum labor standards for domestic workers, covering minimum wage, regulation of work hours, leaves, social security, health insurance, and the provision of a written contract.

Fundamental rights and principles, based on the International Labor Organization's statutes, are also included in the bill, as well as protection for child domestic workers.

These provisions in the bill will help address issues such as various kinds of abuses, debt bondage and forced labor, non-payment of wages and social security, and human trafficking, the groups said.

"The final Bill is a product of intensive consultations, debates, and negotiations among different stakeholders. We believe that this version of the Bill is fair and would benefit domestic workers, their families, and employers," SUMAPI said. - Rappler.com