Can a domestic worker or kasambahay who got fired by his/her employer claim for an unemployment insurance? If an employer fails to remit all contributions of the kasambahay to the Social Security System (SSS), would the SSS penalize or condone the employer? Can a domestic helper lodge a complaint against her employer? Is the kasambahay entitled to take maternity leave if she got pregnant?

Two new laws respond to these questions and say that better social security protection have been laid down for domestic workers and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) - rights and benefits that were before enjoyed by workers in the formal sector only.

These two laws that were passed recently were Republic Act No. 11210 or the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law and Republic Act No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018. The latter amended the 21 years charter of the SSS. The said laws which cover the kasambahays show how domestic workers are gaining stronger foothold as part of formal labor and these were presented during a briefing session on new social legislations/issuances covering domestic workers at the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) last June 18, 2019 conducted by the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC).

Ms. Haydee de Guzman of the SSS Benefits Administration discussed the benefits under the new social security law and emphasized that the unemployment benefit is the additional benefit provided under RA 11199. She further stressed that kasambahays and OFWs are specifically covered by unemployment insurance or involuntary separation benefit. Requirements and conditions for availing it, its limitations and prescriptive period of filing claims were also discussed.

For its part, the DOLE is mandated to certify the involuntary separation from employment of the claimant-beneficiary.

Meanwhile, Atty. Antonio Argabioso, SSS Acting Senior Vice President for Large Account Division/Account Management Group, discussed policies covering kasambahays in the SSS, the contribution scheme under each policy, the value and benefits of SSS members, and the condonation clause of the new law.

Atty. Gerard Peter Mariano, Legal Officer of BWSC, on the other hand, discussed the salient features of the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Act. The law became effective on March11, 2019. He informed the participants that a labor advisory will be issued to clarify some pertinent issues on the new policy.

Two labor advisories – Labor Advisory No. 10, series of 2018, on the entitlement of Kasambahays to other statutory leave benefits and other labor standards benefits and Labor Advisory No. 17, series of 2018, clarifying the procedures in handling kasambahay complaints or request for assistance (RFA) were also discussed during the briefing by Ms. Melinda Banaag of the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) and Atty. Abigail de la Rosa of the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR), respectively.

Banaag enumerated and discussed the various leave benefits of kasambahays provided under various social legislations and have become part of the labor standards, namely, service incentive leave (5 days), maternity leave (105 days), parental leave for solo parents (7 days), violence against women and children (VAWC) leave (up to 10 days) and special leave for women (up to 60 days).

De la Rosa, on the other hand, stressed that handling of kasambahay complaint/request mainly involves single entry approach or SEnA procedure. She also discussed the procedures in handling RFAs of kasambahays.

A total of 30 participants from various bureaus, offices and attached agencies of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and other national government agencies mandated to implement the Batas Kasambahay attended the second of the three briefing sessions/consultations targeted this year by BWSC.

DOLE Undersecretary Ana C. Dione exhorted the participant-agencies who are directly implementing kasambahay concerns to continue their commitment to improve the plight of kasambahays.

“Let us make them feel that they are truly a part and an indispensable member of the formal labor sector and part of the great resource our country could have,” Dione remarked.

END/mpfrianeza