Revisiting Batas Kasambahay
Since its implementation seven years ago, a lot of domestic workers have benefited from Republic Act 10381 or the Batas Kasambahay. With the presence of kasambahay desk officers in every Department of Labor and Employment regional office and Public Employment Services Office in cities and municipalities, kasambahays or domestic workers can now voice their concerns.
The Batas Kasambahay has been lauded as a landmark piece of social legislation, as it has instituted policies for the protection of one of the most vulnerable sectors of society. It is the law governing the rights and liabilities of the househelp or domestic workers and their respective employers.
The law was established to address the inherent vulnerabilities faced by domestic workers. It entitles them to benefits including minimum wage, paid leaves, and coverage in state insurance programs such as Social Security System, PhilHealth, and PagIbig.
The law also requires an employer to have an employment contract, pay slip, and even certificate of employment, thereby formalizing transactions between the worker and employer.
An employment contract is required to be executed between the domestic worker and the employer before the commencement of the service in a language or dialect understood by both of them. It must include the duties and responsibilities of the domestic worker, period of employment, compensation, authorized deductions, hours of work and proportionate additional payment, rest days and allowable leaves, board and lodging, medical attention, agreements on deployment expenses, if any, loan agreement, termination of employment, and other lawful conditions agreed upon by both parties.
Prior to the execution of the employment contract, at the option of the employer and at his own cost, the employer may require the following from the domestic worker: a medical or health certificate issued by a local health officer; barangay and police clearance; National Bureau of Investigation clearance; and authenticated birth certificate or if not available, any other document showing the age of the domestic worker such as voter’s identification card, baptismal record, or passport. If the employment of the domestic worker is done through a private employment agency, these documents are mandatory and should be paid for by the employment agency.
Further, it is the obligation of the employer to register his or her domestic worker in the Registry of Domestic Workers in the barangay where the employer resides. Under the law, the employer shall provide the domestic worker with a copy of the pay slip indicating the amount paid in cash every pay day and deductions made. Copies of the pay slip shall be kept by the employer for three years.
A domestic worker who has rendered at least one month of service shall be covered by the SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig. Premium payments or contributions shall be shouldered by the employer except if the domestic worker is receiving a wage of P5,000 and above per month, in which case, the domestic worker shall pay the proportionate share in the premium payments or contributions.
A domestic worker who has rendered at least one year of service shall be entitled to an annual service incentive leave of five days with pay. It must be emphasized that any unused leaves are neither carried over to the succeeding years nor convertible to cash.
Neither the domestic worker nor the employer may terminate the contract before the expiration of the term except for grounds provided by the law.
The domestic worker may terminate the employment relationship at any time before the expiration of the contract for any of the following causes: verbal or emotional abuse of the domestic worker by the employer or any member of the household; inhuman treatment including physical abuse of the domestic worker by the employer or any member of the household; commission of a crime or offense against the domestic worker by the employer or any member of the household; violation by the employer of the terms and conditions of the employment contract and other standards set forth under this law; any disease prejudicial to the health of the domestic worker, the employer, or member/s of the household; and other similar causes.
An employer may terminate the services of the domestic worker at any time before the expiration of the contract for any of the following causes: misconduct or willful disobedience by the domestic worker of the lawful order of the employer in connection with the former’s work; gross or habitual neglect or inefficiency by the domestic worker in the performance of duties; fraud or willful breach of the trust reposed by the employer on the domestic worker; commission of a crime or offense by the domestic worker against the person of the employer or any immediate member of the employer’s family; violation by the domestic worker of the terms and conditions of the employment contract and other standards set forth under this law; any disease prejudicial to the health of the domestic worker, the employer, or member/s of the household; and other similar causes.
For the protection of the employer, all communication and information pertaining to the employer or members of the household shall be treated as privileged and confidential, and shall not be publicly disclosed by the domestic worker during and after employment. Such privileged information shall be inadmissible in evidence except when the suit involves the employer or any member of the household in a crime against persons, property, personal liberty and security, and chastity.
In the Cordillera, the monthly minimum wage for domestic workers in cities and first-class municipalities should not be less than P4,000 and for other municipalities, P3,000, as amended by Wage Order CAR-DW-03, which took effect on March 12, 2019.