The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed on third and final reading a bill instituting policies for the protection and welfare of caregivers in the practice of their profession, or the proposed “Caregivers Welfare Act.”
With an overwhelming 271 votes, the House of Representatives approved House Bill (HB) 227 which aims to “recognize the role of caregivers in national development and to institute policies in the practice of the profession with the end in view of developing competent caregivers whose standards of professional service shall be excellent and globally competitive.”
“The State also recognizes the need to protect the rights of the caregivers towards a decent employment and income and adheres to a policy of protecting caregivers against abuse, harassment, violence, and economic exploitation,” the bill’s declaration of policy states.
Speaker Martin G. Romualdez is among the authors of the measure.
The bill defines caregivers as “graduate of a caregiving course from an accredited training institution that is recognized by the government or is certified competent by that same institution, and renders caregiving services as stipulated in Section 6.”
Section 4 of the proposed legislation requires that an employment contract be executed by, and between the caregiver and the employer, before the commencement of the service in a language or dialect understood by both parties.
The contract shall also include the following: (a) Duties and responsibilities of the caregiver; (b) Period of employment; (c) Compensation; (d) Authorized deductions; (e) Hours of work and proportionate additional payment or overtime pay; (f) Rest days and allowable leaves; (g) Board, lodging and medical attention; (h) Termination of employment; and (i) Any other lawful condition agreed upon by both parties.
The measure also lists several requirements that the employer may require prior to the execution of the contract, such as the following: training certificate, medical or health certificate, or a police or National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance.
Under Section 7, the caregiver’s working hours shall be based on the employment contract signed by the parties and in accordance with the labor laws, rules, and regulations; and he shall also have an eight (8)-hour work shift, beyond which the mandatory overtime pay shall be applied.
Section 8 provides for the minimum wage of a caregiver, which shall not be less than the applicable minimum wage in the region, while Section 9 mandates that the wages be paid once every two (2) weeks or twice a month at intervals not exceeding sixteen (16) days.
A caregiver who has rendered at least one (1) year of service shall be entitled to an annual service incentive leave of at least five (5) days with pay, based on Section 11. The same provision allows any unused portion of the annual leave to be carried over to the succeeding years, and unused leaves to be convertible to cash.
Coverage under the Social Security System, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth, and the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG, and all other benefits in accordance with the law of the caregiver are also provided for in the bill.
In the case of household-based caregivers, the employer shall provide for their basic necessities including at least three (3) adequate meals a day and a humane sleeping arrangement. Likewise, employers shall provide appropriate rest and assistance in case of illnesses and injuries sustained during the exercise of the caregiver’s duties and responsibilities without loss of benefits.
Sections 16, 17 and 18 of the bill also protect the caregiver from unjust contract termination by enumerating valid causes for termination both by the caregiver and the client.
Senate Bill No. 1396, a counterpart measure of HB 227, is pending with the Senate committees on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.