House sets Jan. 18 as “Araw ng mga Kasambahay”

The House committee on revision of laws chaired by Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th District, Pangasinan) approved on Tuesday House bill 6285 seeking to declare January 18 of every year a non-working holiday as “Araw ng mga Kasambahay.”

Authored by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, the bill recognizes the integral role of all kasambahay in households across the country.

The date commemorates the enactment into law of Republic Act No. 10361, otherwise known as the Domestic Workers Act or Batas Kasambahay, on January 18, 2013.

RA 10361 defines a domestic worker or kasambahay as any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship such as, but not limited to, general househelp, nursemaid or yaya, cook, gardener or laundry person. This excludes any person who performs domestic work only occasionally or sporadically and not on an occupational basis.

With the declaration of a holiday dedicated to kasambahay, domestic workers shall be given a work-free day during which they can attend to the activities that may be organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) or to attend to their much-needed personal errands.

Joji Aragon, DOLE Assistant Secretary, voiced the DOLE’s support for a holiday to commemorate domestic workers. She however said that a specific date for the holiday, which may fall on a weekday depending on the year, might mean employers would have to stay at home and take time off from work so that their kasambahay could celebrate the holiday.

Committee member Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano said that the bill specifically provided that should the holiday fall on a weekend, the special nonworking holiday shall be observed on the Friday of that week. He argued that the spirit of the bill was to provide a work-free day that would not coincide with the weekend, which was when most kasambahay had their rest days.

Moreover, the approved bill provides the Secretary of Labor and Employment, in coordination with the Secretary of Education and the Director-General of the Philippine Information Agency, to implement activities for the continuing dissemination and information campaign to honor domestic workers.

The approval of the bill would fulfill the mandate of RA 10361, a labor and social landmark legislation. Fariñas said that prior to the passage of the “Domestic Workers Act,” there were about 2.9 million domestic household workers in the country who grappled with the harsh conditions attendant to their everyday work and who had nothing to safeguard their rights and welfare.

“The important role that domestic workers play in the growth of the Filipino society cannot be disputed. With the help of domestic workers, employers have the time and luxury to work and pursue their careers and still manage to have a happy and healthy family,” Fariñas said.