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Solon wants agencies liable for ‘kasambahay’ theft

BUHAY Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza on Monday sought to put in place strong countermeasures against the mounting cases of newly hired house helpers or ‘kasambahay’ running off with the cash, jewelry and other valuables of their unsuspecting employers.

As proposed by Atienza in House Bill (HB) 1116, a private employment agency (PEA) may be held civilly liable for financial losses suffered by the employer due to criminal offenses such as theft committed by a newly placed house helper.

The PEA’s “joint and solidary liability” will cease to exist after one year from the date the house helper commenced work with the employer.

“The risk of having to pay for losses will compel every PEA to thoroughly vet all individuals recommended for employment as house helpers,” said Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila.

“Right now, PEAs do not have any incentive to vet applicants, so their agency services are getting exploited by shady characters and even by theft and robbery syndicates preying on households,” Atienza said.

Atienza admitted that a family member had been victimized by a newly hired house helper endorsed by an agency.

Under HB 1116, all PEAs registered with Department of Labor and Employment will be obligated to ensure that:

· The applicant house helper does not have any criminal or derogatory record as evidenced by up-to-date National Bureau Investigation, police and barangay clearances;

· The applicant’s place of origin and residence is authenticated by a barangay certification of actual residency and good moral character;

· The applicant’s family background is established by a birth certificate and the marriage certificate of the parents, as well as the home addresses and contact numbers of immediate family members;

· The applicant’s place of residence and family background is verified by due diligence; and that

· The applicant is genuinely seeking employment, and not merely using the agency to serve any ill-motive or orchestrate any thievery.

The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 10361, or the Domestic Workers’ Act (Batas Kasambahay).