Caregivers’ protection pushed

October 27, 2022 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 307 views

IN recognition of the vital role of caregivers in the country, Senator Francis ‘Tol’ N. Tolentino has sought to institutionalize policies for the protection and welfare of those working in the said underrated sector.

Tolentino recently filed Senate Bill 1396 or the proposed “Caregivers Welfare Act of 2022,”—a measure that seeks to institute policies for the protection and welfare of caregivers in the country.

“In recognition of the very important role of caregivers in national development, policies in the practice of the caregiving profession must be instituted to protect the rights of caregivers and to promote their welfare towards a decent employment,” Tolentino’s explanatory note read.

Tolentino stressed that although the professional and responsive caregiving industry is very vital to medically and physically challenged individuals—considering the country’s aging population, as well as the increase in the number of children born with medical issues and other prevalent illnesses he noted that those working in the said industry are very prone to abuse, harassment, violence and economic exploitation.

According to Tolentino, there is an urgent need for the proposed policies to be enacted into law for those in the caregiving industry “to maintain excellent and globally competitive standards for the caregiver professional service.”

Under SB 1396, a caregiver refers to a graduate of a caregiving course from an accredited training institution that is “recognized by the government or is certified competent by that same institution, and renders caregiving services.”

A study by the Economic Policy Institute in July 2021 showed that caregivers in many countries in the world “are deeply undervalued and underpaid” working below the designated minimum wage under the law.

The proposed legislation seeks to impose that the minimum wage of a “caregiver shall not be less than the applicable minimum wage in the region.”

SB 1396 also proposed that a caregiver’s working hours shall be based on the employment contract signed by the parties and in accordance with the labor laws, rules and regulations—adopting an eight-hour work shift and beyond which the mandatory overtime pay shall be applied.

The bill also mandates that all hired caregivers shall be covered by the Social Security System (SSS), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG, and shall be entitled to all the benefits in accordance with the pertinent provisions provided by law.