Published 2 October 2020, The Daily Tribune

While kasambahays or domestic helpers play a vital role in many Filipino households, their sector is considered to be one of the most vulnerable in society due to the nature of their work. Thus, it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that kasambahays are provided safe and humane working conditions and are given the support they need.

Republic Act No. 10361, otherwise known as “Domestic Workers Act” or “Batas Kasambahay”, is the main piece of legislation governing the employment relationship between kasambahays and their employers. The law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) detail, among others, the process of hiring a kasambahay and the rights of a kasambahay.

The law defines  “kasambahay” as any person engaged 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. The term, however, excludes any person who performs domestic work only occasionally and not on an occupational basis. The IRR clarifies further that services providers, family drivers and children under foster family arrangement are not covered by the term.

My article today outlines the rules in hiring of a kasambahay.

A kasambahay can be hired directly by the employer or indirectly through a licensed Private Employment Agency (PEA). Either way, the employer shall bear the cost of hiring of a kasambahay and in no case shall the recruitment or finder’s fees be charged against the kasambahay.

The employer shall also pay the expenses directly used for the kasambahay’s transfer from place of origin to the place of work. The employer may only recover deployment costs from the kasambahay if the employment relationship is terminated by the kasambahay within six (6) months without just cause.

Prior to the execution of the employment contract, the employer may require the following from the kasambahay:

(a) Medical certificate or a health certificate issued by a local government health officer;

(b) Barangay and police clearance;

(c) National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance; and

(d) Duly authenticated birth certificate or if not available, any other document showing the age of the kasambahay such as voter’s identification card, baptismal record or passport.

The foregoing shall be the standard requirements when the employment of the kasambahay is facilitated through a PEA.

Before the start of the service, a written employment contract between the kasambahay and the employer should be accomplished. The contract should be in a language understood by both the kasambahay and the employer and must include the following:

(a) Duties and responsibilities of the kasambahay, which include the responsibility to render satisfactory service at all times;

(b) Period of employment;

(c) Compensation;

(d) Authorized deductions;

(e) Hours of work and proportionate additional payment;

(f) Rest days and allowable leaves;

(g) Board, lodging and medical attention;

(h) Agreements on deployment expenses, if any;

(i) Loan agreement, if any;

(j) Termination of employment; and

(k) Any other lawful condition agreed upon by both parties.

The Department of Labor and Employment prescribes a standard employment contract which is downloadable from its website.

If the kasambahay is below 18 years old (but should not be below 15 years old), the employment contract shall be signed by his/her parent or lawful guardian on his/ her behalf.

The employer is also required to furnish the kasambahay and the Office of the Barangay Captain in the barangay where the employer resides with copies of the employment contract.

If the parties agree to continue their employment relationship after the expiration of the contract, they must execute a new contract to be registered with the concerned barangay. However, if no new contract is executed, the terms and conditions of the original contract and other improvements granted during the effectivity of the contract are deemed renewed.

In my next column, I will be discussing the rights, benefits and privileges of a kasambahay.

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