Caregiver Welfare Act gets final House nod

The country may soon have a law protecting caregivers after the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Nov. 15, passed on the third and final reading the proposed “Caregivers Welfare Act.”

House of Representatives (File Photo/MANILA BULLETIN)

With 271 affirmative votes, the lawmakers approved House Bill (HB) No. 227, which recognized “the very important role of caregivers in national development.”

The bill seeks to institute policies that would protect the rights of caregivers and promote their welfare towards a decent employment.

Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman, who introduced the measure, cited the country’s aging population and increase in the number of children born with medical issues as some of the reasons why caregivers are in high demand.

“The State also recognizes the need to protect the rights of the caregivers towards a decent employment and income and adheres to a policy of protecting caregivers against abuse, harassment, violence and economic exploitation,” the bill’s declaration of policy stated.

“Caregivers must also be protected against abuse, harassment, violence and economic exploitation. These proposed policies must also be enacted into law to maintain excellent and globally competitive standards for the caregiver professional service,” the bill’s explanatory note said.

Aside from Roman, authors of the measure include Speaker Martin Romualdez, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, Reps. Eric Yap, Edvic Yap, Jocelyn Tulfo, Ralph Wendel Tulfo, Jeffrey Soriano, Patrick Michael Vargas, Josephine Veronique Lacson-Noel, Florencio Gabriel Noel, Juan Fidel Felipe Nograles, Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy, Charisse Anne Hernandez, Keith Micah Tan, Allan Ty, Christian Tell Yap , Munir Jr. Arbison, Arlene Brosas, and France Castro.

Reps. Christopher De Venecia, Alfred Delos Santos, Paolo Duterte, Edcel Lagman, Romeo Acop, Bonifacio Bosita, Carl Nicolas Cari, Edwin Gardiola, Mark Go, Gerville Luistro, Khymer Adan Olaso, Rodolfo Ordanes, Florida Robes, Roman Romulo, Ma. Alana Samantha Santos, Leody Tarriela, and Gus Tambunting were also co-authors.

The bill defines caregivers as “graduate of a caregiving course from an accredited training institution that is recognized by the government or is certified competent by that same institution, and renders caregiving services as stipulated in Section 6.”

Section 4 of the proposed legislation would require an employment contract between the caregiver and employer before services can be rendered.

The contract shall also details on the following: duties and responsibilities of the caregiver, period of employment, compensation, authorized deductions, hours of work and proportionate additional payment or overtime pay, rest days and allowable leaves, board, lodging and medical attention, termination of employment, and any other lawful condition agreed upon by both parties.

For the protection of the employers, they can also ask the following from the caregiver: training certificate, medical or health certificate, or a police or National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance.

The caregivers can only work for an eight-hour shift, although they are allowed to work beyond the mandatory working hours for overtime pay.

The minimum wage for a caregiver should also not be less than the applicable minimum wage in the region, the bill said, adding that wages must be paid once every two weeks or twice a month.

Also, caregivers who have rendered at least one year of service shall be eligible to annual five-day service incentive leave with pay.

The same provision allows any “unused portion of the annual leave to be carried over to the succeeding years, and unused leaves to be convertible to cash.”

They are also entitled to coverages under the Social Security System, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth, and the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG, and all other benefits in accordance with the law.

For household-based caregivers, the employer shall provide for their basic necessities including at least three adequate meals a day and “a humane sleeping arrangement.”

Employers would also be mandated to provide appropriate rest and assistance in case of illnesses and injuries sustained during the exercise of the caregiver’s duties and responsibilities without loss of benefits.

A counterpart measure of HB 227—Senate Bill 1396—is pending with the Senate committees on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.