Starting May 1, the minimum wage rates for domestic workers (kasambahay or katulong) in the Cordillera shall be increased by either P500 or P1,000 per month depending on where in the region they are employed.

This after the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board issued Wage Order CAR-DW-03

The new minimum wage for domestic workers employed in cities and first class municipalities shall be P4,000 per month – a P1,000 increase from the previous rate which was P3,000.

For those employed in second-class municipalities and up, their new minimum wage rates shall be P3,000 per month from the previous rate, which was P2,500.

To avoid misinterpretation, Department of Labor and Employment Dir. and RTWPB chair Exequiel Ronie Guzman emphasized that the new wage rates of P4,000 and P3,000 per month are the lowest wage rates that may be paid to domestic workers but employers can pay them higher. This is to dispel the misconception of some people that whatever the amounts declared in any wage order issued by the RTWPB are the exact amounts employers are to pay their workers.

The primary reason which led to the issuance of Wage Order CAR-DW-03, was based on the result of studies on the socio-economic condition of the region showing an increase in the cost of living, which has direct impact on the lives of our domestic workers and their families.

During the consultations with domestic workers and their employers, both were amenable to an increase citing the same reason plus their claim about the difficulty in hiring domestic workers in our region nowadays.

For the employers, there is an increasing demand for domestic workers especially in urban areas like Baguio City, which naturally ends up, to higher compensation for domestic services.

Hiring domestic workers has become very competitive aggravated by the apparent dearth of people applying for domestic jobs. Such situation leads to house-help applicants asking for higher wages and other amenities for their comfort, welfare and convenience. With the increasing number of people desiring to hire domestic workers primarily due to necessity, they have no recourse but to engage the services of domestic workers.

In one of his media interviews, Guzman clarified that Wage Order CAR-DW-03 covers and applies to all domestic workers, whether on a live-in or live-out arrangement such as but not limited to general househelp, yaya, cook, gardener, laundry person and any person who regularly performs domestic work in one household on an occupational basis.

Those who are not covered include service providers, family drivers, children under foster arrangement and any other person who performs work occasionally or sporadically and not on an occupational basis.

To determine if a hired househelp is a domestic worker or not as contemplated by law, he or she should be a person who is hired to work inside the house of his/her employer for the personal comfort and convenience of the employer and members of his/her family.

Other provisions for domestic workers, which should be given for free, are three adequate meals a day and humane sleeping arrangement that ensure their safety. Employers should also provide appropriate rest and assistance to the domestic worker in case of illness or injury sustained during service without loss of benefits. At no instance shall the employer withdraw or hold in abeyance the provision of these basic necessities as punishment or a form of disciplinary action to the domestic workers.

As to social welfare benefits, a domestic worker who has rendered at least one month of service shall be covered by SSS, PhilHealth, PagIBIG, and shall be entitled to all the benefits in accordance with law. The employer shall shoulder premium payments on contributions.

If the domestic worker is receiving a wage of P5,000 and above per month, the domestic worker shall pay the proportionate share in the premium payments or contributions, as provided by law. The domestic worker shall be entitled to all other benefits under the law.

Ogie Aquillo/RTWPB-CAR