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‘Kasambahay’ law a bane, not benefit

/ 10:41 PM July 17, 2013

Here’s a story of a household employer who had no choice but to fire his kasambahay because of the stringent requirements of the kasambahay law. Instead of benefiting the kasambahay, that law has become a bane.  No doubt, the congressmen and senators who concocted that law never conducted any serious study on its impact on the domestic scene.

Norberto had a household servant for some seven years. Despite efforts to have her registered with the Social Security System (a requirement since 1993), he found out she never bothered to go to the SSS during her days off. An employee himself in some private business, he had no time for such tedious and time-consuming routine (lining up at a government office to pay for anything required by law). He let her handle the chore which was for her own benefit anyway.  He even increased her monthly wage to cover all the SSS contributions. As it panned out, she just pocketed the money. Her excuse was she had no birth certificate. Her relatives in the province said she had none on file there.

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With the SSS now so hungry for funds and requiring the payment of all arrears under pain of the penal sanctions under the law, Norberto shuddered at the thought that he was going to be dunned thousands of pesos in monthly contributions for the past seven years, plus surcharges and penalties!  That was the deal-breaker!

Under the kasambahay law, an employer who dismisses his kasambahay without just cause is only required to pay the salary already earned plus an amount corresponding to 15 days “by way of indemnity” (Sec. 32, Republic Act No. 10361). The choice was thus a no-brainer. Indeed, what would stop any employer from using “loss of trust and confidence” as his excuse?  Who can argue against that, given the very uniquely fiduciary relationship between the employer and his kasambahay?  Can anyone be forced to entrust the sanctity of his home in the care of one he no longer trusts?

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To be sure, Norberto was loath to dismiss his kasambahay, but the economics of keeping her was unthinkable.  He decided it was much simpler and cheaper to send his servant home than to deal with the SSS.  The SSS had no record of his previous servant.  How can it run after him for noncompliance with the SSS law?

There can be no case unless the former kasambahay comes out to complain.   She had already gone to the province with a pabaon.  Norberto has hired a new kasambahay who no longer poses any serious problem with any law.  He is not alone: Many other household employers are now following suit.  The sad part is, they are hiring new ones without stay-in privileges, who report for work only three or four times a week—just to go around the law!  On account of so many ill-conceived provisions of the kasambahay law, mas naging kaawa-awa ang maraming kasambahay!

—STEPHEN L. MONSANTO,

Monsanto Law Office,

Loyola Heights, Quezon City,

lexsquare.firm@gmail.com

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TAGS: Kasambahay Law, letters to the editor, opinion
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