ICYDK, There’s a Law That Protects Domestic Workers from Abuse and Maltreatment
Sep 8, 2023   •   Kyzia Maramara
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Sep 8, 2023   •   Kyzia Maramara
Elvie Vergara went through hell and back working for three years as house help for couple Pablo and France Ruiz in Occidental Mindoro. She’s got injuries to prove it: a blind left eye and a right eye that’s about to suffer the same fate, a deformed ear from untreated wounds, broken nose and teeth, sunken cheekbones, and multiple scars all over her face and body. Elvie Vergara alleged that her employers would beat her repeatedly. “Ate France” would ram her head on the rough surface of the cemented bathroom wall and sink. The couple’s two children would also physically abuse her. Once, she alleged, her employers made her dance naked and hit her private parts with a hammer.
‘PAULIT-ULIT PO NILA AKONG SINASAKTAN’
Elvi Vergara, a maid from Occidental Mindoro, detailed the alleged abuse and severe maltreatment she suffered for almost three years at the hands of her employers during a Senate hearing on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/qzjS535JwF
— The Philippine Star (@PhilippineStar) September 7, 2023
During a September 5 Senate panel, France Ruiz denied the allegations and claimed that Vergara’s wounds were either self-inflicted or was caused from fighting with other housemaids. However, the Ruizes are still facing criminal charges of serious physical injuries, illegal detention, and violation of Republic Act (RA) 10361 or Batas Kasambahay.
Sadly, Vergara’s case isn’t new. In 2012, Bonita Baran also lost her eyesight from the beatings she received. Five years later, in 2017, her abuser, Anna Liza Catahan, was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment. Baran was also paid P100,000 for damages.
Bonita Baran goes to QCRTC for her 1st day in court | via John Consulta pic.twitter.com/5yf9VYKF
— GMA Integrated News (@gmanews) September 17, 2012
Sadly, Vergara and Baran probably won’t be the last kasambahays to be severely maltreated. As long as domestic workers aren’t aware of their rights, they’re in danger of exploitation. Domestic workers and employers should brush up on their knowledge of RA 10361, the Domestic Workers Act or Batas Kasambahay in order to protect themselves. What are the rights and privileges of domestic workers?
RA 10361, Article II, Sec. 5 states that employers or any members of the household should not subject a domestic worker to abuse of any kind. Harassment that leads to degrading a helper’s dignity will lead to punishment.
Article II, Sec. 6, meanwhile, states that employers should provide a domestic worker their basic necessities including at least three meals a day and humane sleeping arrangements.
In an interview, Maia Montenegro said she started working as a house help when she was only 12 years old. She wasn’t aware that it was labor but her mother would receive the small sum for her daughter’s work. Article III, Sec. 16 creates a solid rule for the employement age of domestic workers.
Employers are not allowed to employ anyone below fifteen (15) years old as a domestic worker. Doing so would violate Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”.
Article IV, Sec. 19 entrusts employers with the responsibility to keep their domestic workers healthy and safe while Sec. 20 entitles workers to a daily rest period of 8 hours per day. Sec. 21 makes sure that workers are also entitled to at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in a week. While a one-day scheduled rest should be non-negotiable, employer and employee can also discuss offsets, absences, and other similar arrangements.
Based on the 2022 order from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board, domestic workers are entitled to a minimum monthly wage of P6,000. RA 10361 Article IV Sec. 25 makes sure that payment of wages should be made on time and directly to the helper in cash. Employers can’t convert this into vouchers, coupons, tokens, or anything other than cash.
Domestic workers are also entitled to a 13th month pay as provided for by law.
Elvie Vergara mentioned the Ruizes denied her her P5,000 salary. Article IV, Sec. 28 clearly states that it is unlawful for employers to withhold their employees’ wages. That is unless the domestic worker leaves without any justifiable reason, that’s when any unpaid salary for a period of 15 days shall be forfeited.
Article IV, Sec. 29 grants domestic workers who’ve rendered at least one year of service an incentive leave of five days with pay. However, these cannot be carried over to the succeeding years. Unused leaves are also not convertible to cahs.
City social welfare officers or those from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) can rescue abused or exploited domestic workers, according to Article IV, Sec. 31. Afterward, the DSWD in coordination with DOLE can help the worker look for possible job opportunities.
What if an employer or a domestic worker wants to terminate the contract? Article V, Sec. 33 allows domestic workers to terminate the contract on the grounds of verbal or emotional abuse, inhuman treatment, commission of a crime or offense against the domestic worker, employers’ violation of the contract, disease prejudicial to the health of the domestic worker, and other similar causes.
Sec. 34, on the other hand, allows the employer to terminate the contract on the grounds of disobedience, gross of habitul negligence in the performance of duties, fraud of willful breath of trust, commission of crime or offense, violation of terms and conditions of employment, any disease prejudicial to anyone’s health, and other similar causes.
According to RA 10361, any violation of the provisions of the Act will be punishable with a fine up to P40,000.
Learn more about RA 10361 or Batas Kasambahay here.
What do you think of Elvie Vergara and her case? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
Kyzia spends most of her time capturing the world around her through photos, paragraphs, and playlists. She is constantly on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and a great paperback thriller to pair with it.
Input your search keywords and press Enter.