Estrada seeks greater accountability of private employment agencies in bill amending ‘Batas Kasambahay’

Senator Jinggoy Estrada has filed a bill seeking to amend the law governing the rights and liabilities of household workers and their employers to put more accountability on private employment agencies (PEAs).

In filing Senate Bill No. 456, Estrada said it is imperative that PEAs ensure that the domestic helper that they recruit and refer to employers have been carefully vetted and have no criminal records.

Estrada said doing so would safeguard employers and their families from household helpers “with criminal minds.”

“The enactment of Batas Kasambahay, a landmark legislation governing the rights and liabilities of both house helps and their employers, was a long and arduous one. It took years and several Congresses before it was finally passed into law,” said Estrada, principal author and sponsor of RA 10361, otherwise known as the “Domestic Workers Act.”

“After a decade of the implementation of this law, we have seen that there is a need to intensify the protection even of employers from exploitative and thieving maids pretending to be employed,” the senator pointed out.

“While we have seen its benefits for the kasambahays, there is a need to provide equal protection to their employers given the fact that the nature and place of their work are so intimate to the latter,” he added.

Under the bill, he said PEAs shall have the responsibility to ensure that there is sufficient information, such as bonafide residence and family background of the applicant.

The senator said this can be done through actual verification and supported by relevant documents, among them clearances from barangay, police, and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and birth certificates.

The bill also introduces a sub-section in Section 36 stating the liabilities of PEAs in relation to any criminal act committed by the domestic helper in the first year of employment.

Estrada said such accountability shall cease after one year from the first day of the domestic worker’s employment with the employer.