With 221-0 number of votes and without abstention, the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading House Bill No. 135 or the Caregivers Welfare Act that aims to protect the rights and welfare of caregivers in the country.
“Bilang pagkilala sa mahalagang papel ng mga caregivers sa pambansang kaunlaran, kailangan natin ng mga batas na magbibigay proteksyon sa ating mga caregivers upang protektahan ang kanilang mga karapatan at itaguyod ang kanilang kapakanan patungo sa disenteng hanapbuhay. Ang mga caregivers ay dapat din nating protektahan mula sa pang-aabuso, harassment, karahasan, at economic exploitation,” said Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine B. Roman, the bill’s author.
HB 135 also seeks to ensure the policies will maintain excellent and globally competitive standards for the caregiver professional service.
Other than nurses, Filipino caregivers are in demand here and abroad because of their “unconditional and genuine care for their clients.” They work in private homes, board and care homes, and in health care facilities.
Based on a published report, caregivers are classified only as “other” workers and they fall under the third preference employment-based category.
To work as a caregiver, one does not have to possess a bachelor’s degree but needs only a high school diploma and a few months of work experience.
Congresswoman Roman added that the proposed measure ordered the Department of Labor and Employment to develop a model employment contract for caregivers which shall be accessible to all. The private employment agency must keep all signed employment contracts for verification by DOLE.
House Bill 135 states that employers are now required to request pre-employment requirements for caregivers such as Technical Education and Skills Development Authority-certified caregivers training certificate, medical certificate issued by a local government health officer, and a National Bureau of Investigation or police clearance.
The caregiver’s working hours must be based on the employment contract signed between them and their employer in accordance with labor laws. A caregiver is entitled to work eight hours a day with corresponding overtime pay.
The bill also stipulates the caregiver’s wage must be given on time “once every two weeks or twice a month at the intervals not exceeding 16 days” and employers must provide a pay slip for their salary’s breakdown. Payment of wages through promissory notes, vouchers, coupons, tickets, chits, or any object other than cash is prohibited.
Caregivers will also be entitled to an annual service incentive leave of at least five days with pay once they reach one year in service.
Unused leaves must be carried in their succeeding years of service and be convertible to cash. They should also receive mandatory statutory benefits provided by law.
Employers of household-based caregiver must provide his/her basic necessities, including three adequate meals per day and a humane sleeping arrangement. In cases of illness or injury on the part of caregivers during their duty, employers must give them time to rest and assistance without loss of benefits.
A caregiver may terminate his/her contract due to verbal or emotional abuse, inhumane treatment, commission of a crime or offense, and violation of contract terms and conditions on the employer or household’s part.
At the same time, the employer can terminate their contract with the caregiver if the latter committed a misconduct in connection with work, gross or habitual neglect of duties, fraud or willful breach of trust, commission of a crime or offense, and violation of contract terms and conditions.
“Maraming mga bansa tulad ng United States, Canada, at ang mga nasa Middle East at Europe at maging mga Asian countries tulad ng Japan at Korea ang mas gusto ang mga Filipino caregivers dahil sa kanilang walang pasubali at tunay na pangangalaga sa kanilang mga kliyente,” Rep. Roman added.