In an unprecedented move, the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board-Cordillera Autonomous Region (RTWPB-CAR) has raised the minimum wage of household service workers (HSWs) or domestic helpers.
Wage Order CAR-DW-01 sets the new minimum-wage rates for domestic helpers in the CAR’s chartered cities at P2,500 at least per month and in first-class municipalities at P2,000 at least per month.
The wage order also covers nannies, cooks, gardeners, laundry persons or any person who regularly performs domestic work in one household on an occupational basis.
It, however, exempts service providers, family drivers and children under foster-family arrangement.
The order was the first-ever for wage hike granted to HSWs since the Kasambahay (Domestic Helper) Law was signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd two years ago.
“This is the first mandated pay hike for kasambahay since the passage of Batas Kasambahay in 2013, and I commend the RTWPB-CAR for being the first wage board in the country to do so,” Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.
She added that the wage board’s decision came after a thorough evaluation of existing socio-economic conditions in the region, prompting it to provide HSWs in the Cordillera with immediate relief measures to enable them to cope with the rising cost of living.
Based on 2010 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, there were about 1.9 million domestic workers in the country.
Of these, 600,000 were 16-24 years old and 200,000 were 15-17 years old.
A total of 87,000 of the 600,000 were staying in the houses of their employers.
ILO (International Labor Organization) Convention 189 contains principles promoting the rights and protection of domestic workers based on decent work framework.
Convention 189, which has been ratified by the Philippines, was the precursor of Republic Act 10361, or An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers, or the Domestic Workers Act, or Batas Kasambahay, which seeks to change the conditions of the domestic workers by institutionalizing their rights similar to the rights of workers in the formal sector.
Specifically, it sets standards for terms and conditions of work, including execution of written employment contract between the employer and the household help.
Batas Kasambahay provides minimum wage; health and safety standards; and compulsory Social Security System (SSS), Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth coverage.
It adopts standards for employment of working children and protects them from unjust termination of employment.
As of December 2014, more than 120,000 household helpers were registered with SSS.
A total of 24,671 were registered with Pag-IBIG Fund and 59,734 with PhilHealth.
Wage Order CAR-DW-01 took effect on August 10 after being published in a local CAR newspaper.
The order states that the employer shall provide for basic necessities of the domestic worker, including at least three adequate meals a day, and humane sleeping arrangements that ensure safety.
The employer shall also provide appropriate rest and assistance in case of illness and injuries sustained during service without loss of benefits.
The wage order further provides that the wage of a domestic worker shall be paid in cash at least once a month, and that no deduction from the wages shall be made other than that which is mandated by law, unless allowed by the domestic worker in writing.
In the case of hiring or contracting of domestic workers through a licensed private employment agency, the wage rates prescribed in the order shall be borne by clients of the PEAs and the contract shall be deemed amended accordingly.
If clients fail to pay the prescribed wage rates, the PEAs shall be jointly and severally liable with his principal or client.
The order declares that withholding and interference in the disposal of wages of domestic workers are unlawful and shall be punishable with a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P40,000 without prejudice to the filing of the appropriate civil and/or criminal action by the aggrieved party.
Employers who fail to comply with the provisions of Wage Order CAR-DW-01 could face a fine of not less than P10,000, but not more than P40,000, without prejudice to the filing of appropriate civil and/or criminal action by the aggrieved party.