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Love your ‘kasambahay’ |

Health And Family

Love your ‘kasambahay’

MOMMY TALK - MOMMY TALK By Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan -
Did you know that according to the regional labor force statistics on women and young workers, there are about 1.3 million women employed in private households? They are also called domestic helpers. These days, of course, the most politically correct term to use to refer to our maids is kasambahay. There is even a magna carta being pushed by Congressman Jack Ponce Enrile to insure for our faithful partners at home specific benefits while we benefit from their presence.

The Batas Kasambahay, or HB 8862, was filed last December 7, 1999. It is still pending in the Committee on Labor and Employment, after its approval on first reading on August 3, 2004. If passed, it will give fairer standards for our maids’ regular working hours, regular working days, paid leave credits, maternity benefits, assurance of enough food to be provided by the employer, rest, medical coverage, privacy, outside contact, rules for just termination, and help from lawful third parties.

If you ask me, it’s about time our kasambahays got the protection from the law that they deserve. If you are a mother like me, I’m sure you will agree that the presence of maids in our homes has allowed us to do more things than be tied to purely household chores and care for our children. I know for a fact that my yayas, for example, have been a great blessing to our lives. Even without the passage of HB 8862, I try my very best to give them whatever benefits I think any regular employee should be entitled to, especially those I entrust my most precious possessions to. In case you don’t know, there have been quite a number of laws that have been passed for the protection of our househelpers. They are:

• Civil Code, Article 1695 talks about the hours of work and rest day of househelpers. It states: "A househelper shall not be required to work more than 10 hours a day. Every house helper shall be allowed four days’ vacation each month, with pay."

• Republic Act No. 7655 is an act increasing the minimum wage of househelpers. It has been amended for the Purpose Article 143 of Presidential Decree No. 442,

"That those househelpers who are receiving at least P1,000 shall be covered by the Social Security System (SSS) and be entitled to all the benefits provided thereunder."

According to the Visayan Forum (VF is an accredited non-government organization providing temporary shelter, legal help, and family repatriation for abused housemaids), loving others starts with our kasambahay.

We can show our love for our househelpers, according to VF, if we:

• Give them regular once-a-week day-off so that they can rest.

• Get them registered with the SSS and Philhealth, not only because that is what the law requires but also because we know it will be of great help when they get sick or retire from work.

• Provide support for our kasambahay who desires to finish schooling, especially those who are still very young. This will give them a chance to have a better life for the future.

• Give them just and humane treatment and not as slaves. Do not hurt them physically and verbally abuse them by cursing them.

• Give them a nice, comfortable place to stay, enough food given on time (95 percent of the yayas we have trained for the last eight years have ulcers because they do not eat on time), and provide them with free medicines for work-related illnesses.

• Respect your kasambahay’s right to privacy.

Remember, what you sow, you also will reap. Though we are not perfect, I know that my kasambahays have shown us love because they also feel loved. We, of course, follow certain guidelines to make sure they do what is required of them at work, but we love them the best that we can. It is the least that we can do for the people who give us so much rest and joy. Hope you do the same.
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