If not politically motivated, the Kasambahay bill is profound in theory, but in practice, it is messy and not practicable.
First, not all housemaids are born equal, so to speak. Some come from recruiting agencies, others are walk-ins, and some others are poor, rescued distant blood relatives. It is so easy and noble to fix their salaries, give them the regular employee’s perks, benefits and bonuses, but the fact remains that our house helps are not employees at all because they have an entirely different, if incomparable, daily work routine. How can a housemaid be compared to the regular employee who commutes or drives to work, spends stressful time on the road and money just to get to work? That’s why employees and/or laborers are given fixed wages and all those perks and bonuses.
And culturally and traditionally, our housemaids are not our employees but “family,” simply because they live with us. Some of them are even considered second mothers to the children of a busy working mother.
If the Kasambahay bill becomes a law, it should apply only to housemaids hired from agencies, with a written contract that stipulates nature of tasks, salary, benefits, bonuses, etc. But then, considering the ramifications of the law, can the hiring family in turn charge the housemaid for board and lodging, granting he/she is a stay-in? It is therefore possible that many hardworking housemaids will lose their job and/or not be hired at all.
At most, a Kasambahay law should be applied on a case-by-case basis. While the rich and the business sector may welcome it because they can afford the demands of the law, I am afraid the middle class can’t. With due respect to our lawmakers, I say we are not Saudi Arabia, England or America.
—POMPEYO S. PEDROCHE,