I’d like to know the proper manner of giving compensation to my househelp. I am suffering from a financial strain right now and because of this I have a problem meeting my monetary obligations which also affects the compensation of my househelp. I am wondering if I can give promissory notes as temporary payment to my househelp while I am still finding my way to recover from my financial situation. Is this valid if my employee agrees in writing to accept such note since I also provide the food and shelter for my househelp? Thank you in advance for your advice.
The answer to your question is found in Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10361, also known as the Batas Kasambahay. This law provides for and specifies the rights of househelps including their rights with regard to proper compensation. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of this law states:
“Section 3. Mode of Payment of Wages- The wages of the Kasambahay shall be paid in cash. No Payment by means of promissory notes, vouchers, coupons, tokens, tickets, chits, or any object other than cash shall be allowed.
Section 4. Frequency of Payment of Wages – The wages of the Kasambhay shall be paid at least once a month.”
It is clear from the provision of this rule that the law requires actual cash as the mode of payment for the wages of a househelp. As also specifically stated therein, promissory notes cannot be used as payment to substitute for cash as wages. In relation to this, the law also requires that househelps receive their wages in the form of cash on monthly basis.
It is likewise important to know that improper payment of a househelp’s wage, such as payment by means of promissory note, is considered by the Batas Kasambahay as a form of abuse of househelps that requires reporting to proper authorities (IRR, R.A. No. 10361, Rule X, Sec. 2e). Aside from being regarded as a form of abuse, the improper payment of a househelp’s wage is also considered by the Batas Kasambahay as an unlawful act which is penalized by a fine of not less that Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000) for the first violation with an increased penalty for subsequent violation (IRR, R.A. No. 10361, Rule XII, Sec. 1b, Sec. 2).
It can be shown from the above-cited provisions that the law is clear on the strict requirements against improper payment of a househelp’s wage. And because of this, you cannot insist on paying promissory notes even if you have a written agreement with your househelp expressing his/her consent to receive such mode of payment in lieu of cash. Remember that between private agreements and express provisions of the law, the latter prevail; thus, agreements that violate and contravene the law cannot be considered valid.
In conclusion, we remind you that your financial problem cannot be an excuse to give your househelp promissory notes instead of cash since the Batas Kasambahay is clear and specific on the proper means of payment for the wages of a househelp. Thus, we strongly advise you to abide by the provisions of this law and give your househelp what is legally due to her/him or otherwise suffer the legal consequences of its violation.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com