House helpers in business is illegal

HOUSE helpers should only be working as much.

This summary came after labor authorities note that business employers may circumvent the law and hire house-helps to
tend their business enterprises, a practice that is illegal.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Bohol said since house helpers: maids cooks, handy men, yayas, drivers
and those doing odd jobs in exchange for roof over their heads are not covered by the existing labor laws, business
employers use this ploy to evade from giving these people the righteous wages.

House helps rates are usually determined by personal agreements, some helps do haggle for just rates but those who
do not have the voice to strike deals are bound to slavery that gets them to jobs from 4:00 am to past 10:00, sans any
medical or health benefits, 13th month pay and other perks.

In fact, according to DOLE information Officer German Guidaben, a law enacted in early 1990s which pegs a house
helper’s pay needs an amendment, fast.

Republic Act 7655, enacted August 19, 1993 mandates that house helps be paid P800.00 a month for househelpers in
Manila and in highly urbanized cities; P650.00 a month for those in other chartered cities and first class municipalities;
and Five hundred fifty pesos (P550.00) a month for those in other municipalities.

At this rate and with a minimum wage set at P255 per day in Bohol, employers into business may hire house-helps
but whose tasks include tending stores or other business venture, DOLE’s Chief Wilson Cenas explained at last week’s
Kapihan sa PIA.

In Bohol, the going rate for house helps is P1,500 to P2,500 per month, a pay that entitles them to a free board and
lodging, water, light payments and snacks.

Even with agreeably lax implementation of labor laws in Bohol, with the minimum set at P255, a house help’s net take
home pay is undeniably lower compared to other industry workers.

Apply that to a house help who needs to be up at 4:00 and would have to stay until 10:00 or until everyone in the house
has rested, the pay even shrinks to the state of being undignified.

The worst thing is when, other than these already backbreaking task, some of them would have to tend stores, or are
involved in the operation of a business and do not get a pay out of it, Cenas detailed.

House help really deserve honorable wages and working conditions with dignity. They should be treated humanely and
afforded all the benefits of an employed individual. We trust them with our homes, our children and our lives and that is
almost priceless. While they live with us to work, they are not “family” and their service is as laborious as any good day’s
work, so they must be treated right.

Even with a law filed and needing the urgent certification by President Benigno Simeon Aquino, not much has been done
to improve the house helps’ lot, most workers agree.

House helps who feel they are short changed in this manner can seek assistance from DOLE, Cenas urged. (Rey Anthony
Chiu)

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