The House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 6396 which seeks to institute policies for the protection and welfare of caregivers in the practice of their profession.
Rep. Geraldine Roman (1st District, Bataan), principal author of the proposed “Caregivers Welfare Act”, said professional and responsive care giving is very vital to medically and physically challenged individuals.
She explained the country’s aging population, the increase in the number of children born with medical issues, and prevalent illnesses are the reasons why the demand for caregiving service continues to rise in the Philippines.
Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City), chairman of the committee on appropriations and also an author of the bill, said the continued rise of the demand for care giving service in the country makes it an important national concern.
Another author, Rep. Jericho Jonas Nograles (Party-list, PBA), said the important role of caregivers in national development must also be recognized, and policies in the practice of the caregiving profession must be instituted to protect caregivers from abuse and exploitation.
The bill defines the term “caregiver” as a 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 the measure.
It provides for the execution of an employment contract between the caregiver and the employer before the beginning of the service in a language or dialect understood by both parties.
The said duly signed employment contract of which a copy shall be given to the caregiver shall include details such as the duties and responsibilities of the caregiver; period of employment; compensation; authorized deductions; hours of work and proportionate additional payment or overtime pay; and termination of employment, among others.
The employer may require, prior to the execution of the employment contract, the caregiver’s training certificate issued by the school or institution accredited by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); medical certificate or health certificate issued by a local government health officer; and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or police clearance.
Some of the duties of the caregiver are to provide personal care support and assistance to clients with physical impairment or disabilities in private homes, nursing or geriatric care facilities, and other residential settings; help clients with their daily activities and mobility restrictions; and provide some basic health-related services, such as checking a client’s pulse rate, temperature and respiration rate.
The bill provides 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 likewise be covered by the Social Security System (SSS), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) and shall be entitled to all the benefits in accordance with the pertinent provisions of law.
The minimum wage of a caregiver shall not be less than the applicable minimum wage in the region.
Among the reasons a caregiver may terminate the employment relationship at any time before the expiration of the contract are: verbal or emotional abuse, inhuman treatment including physical abuse by the employer, client, or any member of the household; commission of a crime or offense against the caregiver by the employer, client nor any member of the household; violation of the terms and conditions of the employment contract by the employer; and other causes analogous to the foregoing.
Likewise, an employer may terminate the services of the caregiver at any time before the expiration of the contract for any of the following grounds: misconduct or willful disobedience by the caregiver of the lawful order of the employer in connection with the former’s work; gross or habitual neglect or insufficiency in the performance of duties; fraud or willful breach of the trust reposed by the employer; commission of crime or offense by the caregiver against the person of the employer, client or any immediate member of the employer’s family; violation of the terms and conditions of the employment contract by the caregiver; and other causes analogous to the foregoing.
The measure mandates the Secretary of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to ensure the protection pf the caregivers hired through private employment agencies (PEAs) through a system of licensing and regulation.
The PEAs shall be jointly and severally liable with the employer for all wages, wage-related benefits, and other benefits due to the caregiver.
All labor-disputes shall be elevated to the DOLE and/or the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) having jurisdiction over the workplace without prejudice to the filing of civil or criminal action in appropriate cases. The DOLE Regional Office shall exhaust all conciliation and meditation efforts before a decision shall be censored.
Other authors of the bill are Reps. Gus Tambunting, Deogracias Victor Savellano, Harlin Neil Abayon III, Linabelle Ruth Villarica, Joaquin Chipeco, Jr., Ricardo Belmonte Jr., Eleonor Bulut-Begtang, Randolph Ting, Ariel Casilao, Tomasito Villarin, Raymond Democrito Mendoza, Ronald Cosalan, Peter Unabia, Sarah Elago, Arlene Brosas, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Anthony Bravo, Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Teodoro Montoro and Mark Go.