In the Philippines, practically every home has a househelper. Just as some are treated like family members by their employers, there are also those who, unfortunately, suffer abuse. This is the reason behind the enactment of the “Batas Kasambahay” – to make sure that such abuse and ill-treatment of househelpers are prevented.
The law covers only domestic workers or a “kasambahay”, which 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”, driver, cook, gardener, carpenter or laundry person. The law does not apply to any person who performs domestic work only occasionally or sporadically and not on an occupational basis.
Some of the significant provisions of the law are the following:
ART. II. Rights and Privileges
1. Standard of Treatment
The employer or any member of the household shall not subject a domestic worker to any kind of abuse. Any form of physical violence or harassment, or any act tending to degrade the dignity of a domestic worker, is also prohibited.
2. Board, Lodging and Medical Attendance
The employer shall provide for the basic necessities of the domestic worker, including at least three (3) adequate meals a day, and humane sleeping arrangements that ensure safety.
The employer shall also provide appropriate rest and assistance to the domestic worker in case of illnesses and injuries sustained during service.
The employer is prohibited from withdrawing or keeping these basic necessities from the domestic helper as a form of punishment or disciplinary action.
3. Guarantee of Privacy
The domestic employer has a right to privacy, and the employer is prohibited from meddling with the domestic worker’s communication and personal effects.
This guarantee equally recognizes that the domestic worker is obliged to render satisfactory service at all times.
4. Access to Outside Communication
During the domestic worker’s free time, the employer shall grant the domestic worker access to outside communication, such as the use of the telephone, the post office, or the internet. In case of emergency, access to communication shall be granted even during work time.
Should the domestic worker incur any costs when making use of the employer’s telephone or other communication facilities (such as when long distance calls are made), the costs shall be borne by the domestic worker, unless such charges are waived by the employer.
5. Right to Education and Training
The employer shall give the domestic worker the opportunity to finish basic education, and may allow access to alternative learning systems. If possible, the employer shall also give the domestic worker a chance to finish 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.
Another important provision that this law introduced is the “Prohibition Against Privileged Information”, that is, 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. This means that any information obtained by the domestic worker about the people in the household shall be inadmissible in evidence, except when the case involves the employer or any member of the household in a crime against persons, property, personal liberty and security, and chastity.