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BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS BILL FOR FILIPINO MAIDS

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MANILA, Philippines - Representative Jack Enrile of Cagayan urged President Benigno Aquino III to certify as "urgent" House Bill No. 553 - the so called Magna Carta for Household Helpers or Batas Kasambahay.
"I believe that household helpers are extensions of the Filipino family... the relationship between the homeowner and the household helper transcends that of a simple employer-employee relationship," Enrile said.
  • "This is a way to make sure that their rights are protected and that they receive just compensation and benefits. After all, they are as much a part of our economy as any other worker or professional," he said.
  • Enrile is pushing for better working conditions for maids employed in the country in a bid to recognise their economic constribution to the Filipino family as well as protect their rights.
  • House Bill No. 553 sets minimum standards for the employment of household helpers following the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) adoption of new rules for the protection of local household helpers.
Househelpers are an integral member of any Filipino middle-class to upper-class household. Their domestic contribution is invaluable especially at a time when most homes have evolved from single income earner domiciles into houses where several members of the family are employed.
With the eventual passage of the proposed Magna Carta for Household Helpers, Enrile said it is "high time that we give our household helpers what is due them."
  • The lawmaker lamented that the Bill has never been part of any administration's priority legislative agenda, but pointed out that with the ILO's new convention, the Philippine government - an active ILO member - should throw its support behind the measure.
  • The ILO in its annual conference in June, adopted a new convention to protect household helpers as well as recommendations on how to implement this international agreement. The Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers spells out that the people concerned must have the same basic labour rights as other employed persons.
  • According to the ILO, these rights include "reasonable working hours, a weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, 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".
  • In the Bill's explanatory note, Enrile noted that it is the duty of the State to establish the minimum working parameters and standards that will ensure the protection and well-being of both employer and household helper, and to promote the harmonious and protective relationship between both parties.
Under HB 553, household helpers will receive a minimum wage depending on their location, whether in urban or rural areas and they would receive social security and health insurance benefits as well as 13th month pay.
The measure also sets a maximum of 10 hours of work a day, annual 14-day vacation with pay and maternity or paternity leave.
Source: Agency
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