I’d like to ask about the salary that is being received by my niece who works as a househelper (kasambahay). She has been working for her employer for almost four months already but is not receiving any cash as salary. What they give her instead is a sort of a handwritten note promising to pay her salary after six months. The employer allegedly insisted that it was legal since they agreed on that arrangement from the start. I’d like to confirm if her employer’s claim has any legal basis. We hope for your advice. Thank you very much!
There is an apparent irregularity in your niece’s employer paying her monthly wage through a promissory note.
Republic Act (RA) 10361, or the Kasambahay Law, highlights and strengthens the rights of househelpers in receiving proper and timely compensation for their work. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 10361 specifies the proper manner and mode of payment of wages, to wit:
“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 kasambahay shall be paid at least once a month.”
This cited provision clearly requires househelpers to be paid in cash for their wages. The law also specifically mentions that no other means of payments will be allowed, not even promissory notes. In addition to this, it should also be noted that the law requires that wages of househelpers should be paid monthly.
Considering these provisions, it is clear that the employer of your niece violates her right to proper payment of her wage. Receiving promissory notes instead of cash, which promises your niece of payment of her salary after six (6) months, is a blatant violation of the aforementioned law.
It is important to note that failure to comply with the mandate of the law in the proper payment of wages of househelpers is a form of abuse of househelpers that should be reported to authorities (IRR, RA 10361, Rule X Sec. 2e). The withholding of a househelper’s salary is considered an unlawful act penalized by law with a fine of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000) for the first violation and subject to an increasing amount until Forty Thousand Pesos (P40,000) for succeeding penalties in addition to other civil or criminal actions that may be filed by the aggrieved party (Id., Rule XII Sec 1b, Sec 2).
Finally, the fact that your niece allegedly agreed to such manner of payment of wages is immaterial and cannot be used as an excuse to allow the use of promissory notes to pay her monthly wage. Such agreement is in contravention of the specific provisions of the law, therefore the law cannot be used to condone the irregularity in the payment of her wage. In the light of the intention of the law to protect the rights of househelpers, it is the provisions of the law that will govern their agreement instead of the agreement of the parties that violates the law.
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.