Jinggoy pushes bill to protect caregivers

(MANILA STANDARD) Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada sponsored a bill seeking to institute policies to protect the rights and promote the welfare of caregivers.

In endorsing the approval of the proposed Caregivers’ Welfare Act, Estrada, who is the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, laid down an array of benefits and policies to professionalize caregiving as a career.

The measure will cover all those who are in the actual practice of caregiving – professional health care providers who are license holders, graduates of caregiving courses or any allied healthcare course, and those who have been certified as competent by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

“We need to create a favorable working environment conducive and supportive to the welfare and interests of our caregivers,” Estrada said.

“We are trying to establish an alternative choice for our caregivers where they are not forced to work overseas, endure the pain of being away from their families and loved ones, and take the many risks of working and living abroad.”

The consolidated version of the bill provides guidelines for the preparation and execution of employment contracts, submission of pre-employment requirements, non-diminution of benefits, protection from unjust termination of service, protection of those hired through private employment agencies, settlement of disputes, duties of caregivers and the basic necessities that their employers should provide them.

In compliance with the basic standards provided under the Labor Code, Estrada said caregivers will have a minimum of eight hours of work, and work rendered in excess will be paid as overtime.

To avoid possible overlap of functions, the proposed legislation defines the respective duties of caregivers and kasambahays.

“If a kasambahay is doing a caregiving function, but does not possess a National Certificate II for caregiving issued by TESDA, then he or she should be paid as kasambahay.  Unless of course, the employer would want to pay him or her a much bigger pay,” said Estrada, the “Father of the Batas Kasambahay.”

The senator said the bill likewise provides for the grant of 13th-month pay, entitlement to the annual service incentive leave of at least five days with pay, and benefits of SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG.

“As we recognize and act on the need to protect the rights of our caregivers towards decent employment and income, we adhere to a policy of protecting caregivers against abuse, harassment, violence, and economic exploitation,” Estrada said in his sponsorship speech.

“With the passage of our Caregivers’ Welfare Act, we give due recognition to the important role of our caregivers in national development. Panahon na po upang alagaan natin ang ating mga tagapag-alaga at maprotektahan ang sektor ng ating mga caregivers,” he added. Macon Ramos-Araneta