Congress okays Kasambahay bill

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Latest News Philippines: Congress okays Kasambahay bill –

THE members of the bicameral conference committee tasked to “fine tune” the proposed Kasambahay bill have agreed to fix the monthly minimum wage of household workers at Php2,500.

The second and final round of discussions on the disagreeing provisions of the Kasambahay Bills (Senate Bill 78 and House Bill 6144) conducted Monday evening lasted until past midnight, said Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada.

The panel agreed to set the base pay for domestic work thereby increasing those stipulated in the Labor Code, said Estrada, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources.

He noted that the last time the minimum wage for household helpers was augmented was 19 years ago through Republic Act 7655 of 1993 which calls for an increase in the minimum wage of househelpers.

Estrada, who introduced the provision prescribing minimum wages for domestic workers, said that the minimum wage for domestic workers as stated in Article 143 of the Labor Code is currently pegged at P800 in Metro Manila and highly urbanized cities, Php650 in other chartered cities and first-class municipalities, and Php550 for other municipalities.

“The amounts stated in our Labor Code are very much outdated and unrealistic, considering the high cost of living especially in the metropolis. I think it is high time to increase the minimum wage which can be considered decent compensation,” he said.

The panel moved to adopt a Senate provision on minimum wage for domestic workers which prescribes Php2,500 monthly salary for those working in the National Capital Region, Php2,000 for those in chartered cities and first-class municipalities, and Php1,500 for those in other municipalities. 

“We are also not preventing well-off employers from paying much higher wages to their household helpers. We just want to give kasambahay what is due them,” Estrada said.

After one year from the effectivity of the act and every year thereafter, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards will review and, if proper, adjust the minimum wage rates of household domestic workers, he said.

Apart from increased wages, household workers will also be entitled to membership in Social Security System (SSS), PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG. The employers will shoulder the payment of contribution for social benefits of minimum wage earners, Estrada said.

Angara hails bicam

One of the authors of House Bill 6144, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, expressed elation over the approval of the measure by the bicameral conference committee.

He urged President Benigno Aquino to immediately sign the bill into law after the ratification.

“We are hopeful that this landmark piece of legislation for 2 million kasambahay can be signed into law by President Aquino before the year ends. This would be a perfect Christmas present to our hardworking helpers,” Angara said.

Among the benefits the reconciled bill grants domestic workers are leave with pay and 13th month pay.

Househelps who have rendered at least one year of service are entitled to an annual service incentive leave of five days with pay, as well as 13th month pay.

Furthermore, the bill strictly prohibits employers from placing their helpers under debt bondage, as well as from hiring minors below 15 years.

They must also allow their helpers to finish basic education and access higher education, technical and vocational training, or other alternative learning systems.

“We’ve agreed that employers should adjust the work schedule of the domestic worker to allow such access to education or training without hampering the services required by the employer,” Angara said.     With Jester P. Manalastas


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