DON’T look now, but there are more than 45,000 “child workers,” 5,000 of them under 15 years old and employed as household domestic helpers, in various parts of impoverished Philippines.
And to think that under Republic Act (RA) No. 10361, or the Kasambahay Law, it is unlawful to employ children who are below 15 years old, which is a clear form of child labor and exploitation.
Violators of the landmark legislation face a fine ranging from P10,000 to P40,000. Of course, this is on top of the civil and criminal charges to be filed against employers under RA No. 9231.
RA No. 9231 is an act providing for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and affording stronger protection for the working child in this Third World Southeast Asian nation.
Citing the October 2019 survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) said there are about 1,400,132 domestic household workers in the country.
Of the number, about four percent or more than 40,000 are child domestic workers aged 18 and below, while less than one percent or about 5,000 are below 15 years old, said NWPC Executive Director Criselda Sy.
Director Karina Perida-Trayvilla, of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, said the Department of Labor and Employment has intensified the monitoring of compliance of employers with RA No. 10361.
Director Trayvilla reminded the country’s employers that a “kasambahay” or a household worker should be registered with the Social Security System, PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG.
Likewise, a “kasambahay” is entitled to a weekly 24-hour rest period, and annual service incentive leave with pay.
We are heartened that the government, through the DOLE, is paying attention to the more than 1.4 million domestic household workers, including the so-called child workers, across the country.
What is needed, in our view, is for these overworked and underpaid workers to report abuses or labor law violations by their employers to the nearest DOLE regional office.