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Kasambahay law?

Manila, Philippines – AS of this writing the Kasamba hay Bill is expected to be signed into law by President Noynoy Aquino. The term is newspeak for “helper“ or maid in the vernacular, meant to be gleaned in more positive light as “house companion“ (HC).

Briefly, the statute provides a standard that will benefit and protect the welfare of roughly two million “kasambahays“ nationwide in terms of mandatory requirements for employers e.g. provide adequate board and lodging for their HC, social insurance, to include health benefits. Salary scales also prescribed as follows: P2,500 pesos for Metro-Manila; P2,000 pesos, Chartered cities; and P1,500 pesos other areas. A mechanism for regular wage review is incorporated to maintain parity with increasing living standards.

While the intention of the law is commendable, the downside to mandatory requirements for prescribing salary scales imposed by the law, may have the net effect of many households unable to fulfill the legal requirements and hence expect lay-offs to occur instead? Consider the salary required in Metro-Manila, plus the house owner has to shoulder, as well, the social insurance and health requirements? What of relatives cum HC? In today’s ever decreasing living spaces (single condo units) what if the apartment owner cannot provide separate sleeping quarters for the HC? Rather than be unemployed, kasambahays may turn a blind eye willing to accept their present setup, before the law was passed? How about HC receiving salaries above 2,500? May employers reduce the wage according to that set by law? This is really the problem when government begins to meddle in a graduated market and is based on voluntary/consensual verbal contracts ruled by a ‘familial’ environment. There is a socio-cultural dimension here which government fails to appreciate and why good intention formalizing a “Capital-Labor“ relation misses the point. Legislators should have focused instead on rampant “contractualization“ of employment e.g. in Malls etc. There is the bigger challenge or are they fighting only the lesser battles?

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