Primer on the Batas Kasambahay or Domestic Workers Act (Republic Act No. 10361)

In a move meant to better protect domestic workers, the Philippine Congress passed a law known as the “Domestic Workers Act” or “Batas Kasambahay”. On 18 January 2013, President Benigno Aquino III signed Republic Act No. 10361 (full text; see also Implementing Rules and Regulations), instituting policies for the protection and welfare of domestic helpers. Considering that it equally affects the domestic helpers and the employers, let’s get to know what’s provided in this law.

1. Who is a Kasambahay or Domestic Worker?
2. Minimum age of domestic workers
3. Employer’s reportorial duties
4. Requirement of a contract
5. Wage provisions
6. Rest periods and leave credits
7. SSS and other social benefits
8. Assignment to non-household work
9. Assignment in another home
10. Deposits for loss or damage
11. Prohibition on debt bondage
12. Rights and Privileges of Kasambahay
13. Cessation of employment

1. Who is a Kasambahay or Domestic Worker?

Domestic worker or “Kasambahay” refers to 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, but shall exclude any person who performs domestic work only occasionally or sporadically and not on an occupational basis.

The term shall not include children who are under foster family arrangement, and are provided access to education and given an allowance incidental to education, i.e. “baon”, transportation, school projects and school activities.

2. Minimum age of domestic workers

It’s criminally punishable to employ any person below 15 years of age as a domestic worker.

3. Employer’s reportorial duties

The employers shall register all domestic workers under their employment in the Registry of Domestic Workers in the barangay where the employer’s residence is located. [Back to the top]

4. Requirement of a contract

An employment contract shall be executed by and between the domestic worker and the employer before the commencement of the service in a language or dialect understood by both the domestic worker and the employer. The domestic worker shall be provided a copy of the duly signed employment contract which must include the following:

(a) Duties and responsibilities of the domestic worker
(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
(j) Termination of employment
(k) Any other lawful condition agreed upon by both parties

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall develop and disseminate a model employment contract for domestic workers. In cases where the employment of the domestic worker is facilitated through a private employment agency, the PEA shall keep a copy of all employment contracts of domestic workers and shall be made available for verification and inspection by the DOLE. [Back to the top]

5. Wage provisions

What is the minimum wage of domestic helpers?

The minimum wage of domestic workers shall not be less than the following:

a. P2,500 a month for those employed in the National Capital Region (NCR)

b. P2,000 a month for those employed in chartered cities and first class municipalities

c. P1,500 a month for those employed in other municipalities

The Regional Tripartite and Productivity Wage Boards (RTPWBs) are required to periodically adjust, if proper, the minimum wage rates of domestic workers.

What is the manner of paying wages?

Payment of wages shall be made on time directly to the domestic worker to whom they are due in cash at least once a month. The employer, unless allowed by the domestic worker through a written consent, shall make no deductions from the wages other than that which is mandated by law. No employer shall pay the wages of a domestic worker by means of promissory notes, vouchers, coupons, tokens, tickets, chits, or any object other than the cash wage.

Is the kasambahay entitled to 13th-month pay?

The domestic worker is entitled to a thirteenth month pay.

Is the employer required to keep pay slips?

Yes. The employer shall at all times provide the domestic worker with a copy of the pay slip containing the amount paid in cash every pay day, and indicating all deductions made, if any.

What is more, copies of the pay slip shall be kept by the employer for a period of 3 years.

What are additional prohibitions in relation to wages?

Interference in the disposal of wages. It shall be unlawful for the employer to interfere with the freedom of any domestic worker to dispose of the latter’s wages. The employer shall not force, compel or oblige the domestic worker to purchase merchandise, commodities or other properties from the employer or from any other person, or otherwise make use of any store or services of such employer or any other person.

Withholding of wages. It shall be unlawful for an employer, directly or indirectly, to withhold the wages of the domestic worker. If the domestic worker leaves without any justifiable reason, any unpaid salary for a period not exceeding 15 days shall be forfeited. Likewise, the employer shall not induce the domestic worker to give up any part of the wages by force, stealth, intimidation, threat or by any other means whatsoever. [Back to the top]

6. Rest periods and leave credits

How many hours of rest period per day?

Domestic workers are entitled to an aggregate daily rest period of 8 hours per day.

What is the required weekly rest period?

The domestic worker shall be entitled to at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in a week. The employer and the domestic worker shall agree in writing on the schedule of the weekly rest day of the domestic worker, but the employer shall respect the preference of the domestic worker as to the weekly rest day when such preference is based on religious grounds. The domestic worker and the employer may agree on the following:

a. Offsetting a day of absence with a particular rest day

b. Waiving a particular rest day in return for an equivalent daily rate of pay

c. Accumulating rest days not exceeding 5 days, or

d. Other similar arrangements [Back to the top]

How may days are required for leave credits?

A domestic worker who has rendered at least 1 year of service shall be entitled to an annual service incentive leave of 5 days with pay. Any unused portion of said annual leave shall not be cumulative or carried over to the succeeding years. Unused leaves shall not be convertible to cash. [Back to the top]

7. SSS and other social benefits

A domestic worker who has rendered at least 1 month of service shall be covered by the Social Security System (SSS), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG, and shall be entitled to all the benefits in accordance with the pertinent provisions provided by law.

Premium payments or contributions shall be shouldered by the employer. However, if the domestic worker is receiving a wage of P5,000 and above per month, the domestic worker shall pay the proportionate share in the premium payments or contributions, as provided by law.

The domestic worker shall be entitled to all other benefits under existing laws. [Back to the top]

8. Assignment to non-household work

No domestic worker shall be assigned to work in a commercial, industrial or agricultural enterprise at a wage rate lower than that provided for agricultural or non-agricultural workers. In such cases, the domestic worker shall be paid the applicable minimum wage. [Back to the top]

9. Assignment in another home

The domestic worker and the employer may mutually agree for the former to temporarily perform a task that is outside the latter’s household for the benefit of another household. However, any liability that will be incurred by the domestic worker on account of such arrangement shall be borne by the original employer. In addition, such work performed outside the household shall entitle the domestic worker to an additional payment of not less than the existing minimum wage rate of a domestic worker. It shall be unlawful for the original employer to charge any amount from the said household where the service of the domestic worker was temporarily performed. [Back to the top]

10. Deposits for loss or damage

It’s unlawful for the employer or any other person to require a domestic worker to make deposits from which deductions shall be made for the reimbursement of loss or damage to tools, materials, furniture and equipment in the household. [Back to the top]

11. Prohibition on debt bondage

It’s unlawful for the employer or any person acting on behalf of the employer to place the domestic worker under debt bondage, which refers to the rendering of service by the domestic worker as security or payment for a debt where the length and nature of service is not clearly defined or when the value of the service is not reasonably applied in the payment of the debt. [Back to the top]

12. Rights and Privileges of Kasambahay

Standard of Treatment

The employer or any member of the household shall not subject a domestic worker or “kasambahay” to any kind of abuse nor inflict any form of physical violence or harassment or any act tending to degrade the dignity of a domestic worker.

Board, Lodging and Medical Attendance

The employer shall provide for the basic necessities of the domestic worker to include at least 3 adequate meals a day and humane sleeping arrangements that ensure safety.

The employer shall provide appropriate rest and assistance to the domestic worker in case of illnesses and injuries sustained during service without loss of benefits.

At no instance shall the employer withdraw or hold in abeyance the provision of these basic necessities as punishment or disciplinary action to the domestic worker.

Guarantee of Privacy

Respect for the privacy of the domestic worker shall be guaranteed at all times and shall extend to all forms of communication and personal effects. This guarantee equally recognizes that the domestic worker is obliged to render satisfactory service at all times.

Access to Outside Communication

The employer shall grant the domestic worker access to outside communication during free time: Provided, That in case of emergency, access to communication shall be granted even during work time. Should the domestic worker make use of the employer’s telephone or other communication facilities, the costs shall be borne by the domestic worker, unless such charges are waived by the employer.

Right to Education and Training

The employer shall afford the domestic worker the opportunity to finish basic education and may allow access to alternative learning systems and, as far as practicable, higher education or technical and vocational training. The employer shall adjust the work schedule of the domestic worker to allow such access to education or training without hampering the services required by the employer.

Prohibition Against Privileged Information

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. [Back to the top]

13. Cessation of employment

Termination of service

Neither the domestic worker nor the employer may terminate the contract before the expiration of the term except on reasons allowed by law. If the domestic worker is unjustly dismissed, the domestic worker shall be paid the compensation already earned plus the equivalent of 15 days work by way of indemnity. If the domestic worker leaves without justifiable reason, any unpaid salary due not exceeding the equivalent 15 days work shall be forfeited. In addition, the employer may recover from the domestic worker costs incurred related to the deployment expenses, if any, provided that the service has been terminated within 6 months from the domestic worker’s employment.

If the duration of the domestic service is not determined either in stipulation or by the nature of the service, the employer or the domestic worker may give notice to end the working relationship 5 days before the intended termination of the service.

The domestic worker and the employer may mutually agree upon written notice to pre-terminate the contract of employment to end the employment relationship.

Termination initiated by the domestic worker

The domestic worker may terminate the employment relationship at any time before the expiration of the contract for any of the following causes:

(a) Verbal or emotional abuse of the domestic worker by the employer or any member of the household;

(b) Inhuman treatment including physical abuse of the domestic worker by the employer or any member of the household;

(c) Commission of a crime or offense against the domestic worker by the employer or any member of the household;

(d) Violation by the employer of the terms and conditions of the employment contract and other standards set forth under this law;

(e) Any disease prejudicial to the health of the domestic worker, the employer, or member/s of the household; and

(f) Other causes analogous to the foregoing.

Termination initiated by the employer

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:

(a) Misconduct or willful disobedience by the domestic worker of the lawful order of the employer in connection with the former’s work;

(b) Gross or habitual neglect or inefficiency by the domestic worker in the performance of duties;

(c) Fraud or willful breach of the trust reposed by the employer on the domestic worker;

(d) 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;

(e) Violation by the domestic worker of the terms and conditions of the employment contract and other standards set forth under this law;

(f) Any disease prejudicial to the health of the domestic worker, the employer, or member/s of the household; and

(g) Other causes analogous to the foregoing. [Back to the top]

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