Senate OKs bill on welfare, protection of caregivers

(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Tuesday approved Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2019, otherwise known as the Caregivers’ Welfare Act. 

With 21 affirmative votes, zero negative, and zero abstentions, SBN 2019 was approved on third and final reading during a plenary session.

The measure secures caregivers’ rights from implementation of decent employment and income policies to protect them from abuse, harassment, violence, and economic exploitation.

SB 2019 states that a 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.

The measure likewise indicates that the minimum wage of a caregiver shall not be less than the applicable minimum wage in the region.

Among the recommendations included in the measure are the following:

  • Wages shall be paid on time directly to the caregiver to whom they are due once every two weeks or twice a month at intervals not exceeding 16 days.
  • A caregiver who has rendered at least one month of service is entitled to a thirteenth month pay which shall not be less than one-twelfth of his or her total basic salary earned in a calendar year.
  • Employers shall also provide the caregiver with a copy of the pay slip containing the amount paid in cash every pay day, and indicating all deductions made, if any.
  • A caregiver who has rendered at least one year of service shall be entitled to an annual service incentive leave of at least five  days with pay. 
  • A caregiver shall be covered by the Social Security System (SSS), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or Pag-IBIG, and shall be entitled to all the benefits in accordance with the pertinent provisions provided by law.
  • The employer shall also provide for the basic necessities of the caregiver, such as three adequate meals a day and appropriate rest and medical assistance in the form of first-aid medicines, in case of illness and injuries sustained during service without loss of benefits.
  • A caregiver must also be able to terminate employment relationship an anytime for any of the following reasons: verbal and emotional abuse, inhumane treatment, commission of a crime or offense against the caregiver by the client, and if any member of the household, employer or his/her representative has any disease prejudicial to the health of the caregiver.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who also sits as the chairperson of the Senate’s committee on labor, employment and human resources development, said the Senate has united to approve the measure.

“This is an important and special opportunity for your servant. We have passed a bill that will provide protection to a vulnerable but vigorous sector of our society. Just like the Caregiver Law that we celebrated the tenth anniversary of today, we hope that this is a step for the continued development and improvement of the condition of our caregivers,” said Estrada.