“I thank the officialdom of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Sonny Belmonte, Majority Floor Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, and all the members of the Lower Chamber of Congress, notably the members of the House Committee on Labor and Employment led by its Chairman Rep. Emil Ong, for their seal of approval on the domestic workers' bill,” said Baldoz.
Baldoz, who was in Pagadian City to launch in Region 9 the DOLE's Child Labor Free Barangay Campaign, said the timing of the approval is perfect as it came on the same day the International Labor Organization's Office of ILO Director General Juan Somavia accepted the Philippine instrument of ratification of ILO Convention 189.
"The timing of the bill's approval, I believe, is perfect. Yesterday, the ILO has accepted our country's instrument of ratification of ILO Convention 189, or the Domestic Workers' Convention, and both occasion, this development, are significant in that they pave the way towards the empowerment of the country's estimated 2 million to 2.5 million household domestic service workers with a promise of better salaries, better work conditions, and other benefits," Baldoz commented.
With the House's approval, the Kasambahay bill will now be reconciled with the Senate version of the measure, earlier approved in December 2011, in a bicameral conference committee. To finally become a law, the reconciled version of the measure will be both ratified by both Houses then sent to President Benigno S. Aquino III for his signature.
The Kasambahay bill is envisioned to provide a comprehensive package of benefits to household workers, including their entitlement to 13th month pay, 14-day paid vacation, and maternity or paternity leave. It sets minimum standards for the employment of domestic helpers following the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) adoption of Convention 189 which sets new international standards for the protection of household helpers.
ILO Convention 189 defines domestic work as work performed in or for a household or households. While the new ILO instrument covers all domestic workers, it provides special measures to protect those workers who, because of their young age or nationality or live-in status, may be exposed to additional risks relative to their peers, among others.
Convention 189 requires that household workers be given “reasonable working hours, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles, including freedom of association, and the right to collective bargaining.”
Proponents of the measure noted that it took 16 years of legislative struggle to have a national law for domestic workers. Thus, President Aquino in his first State of the Nation Address emphasized the need to improve protection for workers in this vulnerable sector. Many social sectors, including the DOLE, had lobbied hard for the approval of the Kasambahay bill.
In its present form, the Kasambahay bill is a consolidation of the proposed bills of Democratic Independent Workers’ Alliance (DIWA) party-list Rep. Emmeline Aglipay, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, and Ilocos Sur Rep. Ryan Luis Singson.
"There are a thousand and one reasons for the Kasambahay bill to form part of the country's body of social legislation. One of the most important of these reasons is that it will promote the welfare of millions of our kababayans working as domestic helpers here and abroad," explained Baldoz.