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LEGAL RESEARCH/ESSAY

TOPIC:

OUR DOMESTIC SERVANTS IN THE NCR CURRENTLY RECEIVING P3,500

PER MONTH AS MINIMUM WAGE. IS THAT HUMANE AND SUFFICIENT TO

ACHIEVE A DECENT LIVING BASED ON THE TEACHING OF INTERNATIONAL

LAW?

SUBMITTED BY: JOHN MATTHEW CALLANTA

SUBJECT: PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW AND SPECIAL ISSUES ON

INTERNALTIONAL LAW

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INTRODUCTION

According to Thompson Reuters Foundation, 83% of the world's 53

million domestic workers are women. 17.2 million of them are aged between

5 and 17 years old. It has also been cited that 45% of the domestic workers

are not entitled to a weekly day off or paid holidays1. News up to date and

from history showed that abuse to domestic worker is prevalent. Rape,

physical violation and other forms of maltreatment has been shown to be the

major cases concerning the treatment of the employers toward their

domestic helpers. Stigma is natural with respect to how the society view the

nature of work and job of a domestic helper and the helper himself or herself.

The stigma and violence reported have been the cause of the birth of several

laws in each country addressing the problematic aspects of the domestic

helpers and its industry. Just looking into the daily news, the researcher

submits that there is indeed an urgent and utmost need to pass laws for the

welfare of the domestic helpers not just here in the Philippines but

worldwide.

This short research paper aims to provide facts that will let the reader

infer an answer to the topic and question posted in the first page of this

paper. Nevertheless, the researcher will also provide his opinion and

conclusion at the end with the intention but to promote the welfare of the

domestic helpers in our country. This research paper will also discuss the

law that was approved last January 18, 2013. This law is entitled Republic

Act No. 10361 or known as "Batas Kasambahay". This law will be our guide

with respect to Philippine jurisdiction and hopefully to get its intent to arrive

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at the soundest conclusion. We will also look into some of the International

law conventions and treaties about domestic workers.

INTERNATIONAL LAW

The Philippines is a signatory of an international convention which is

the Convention on Domestic Workers3. It has been established that a

signature in a treaty of a State does not constitute and does not amount to

the state being obliged or required to comply thereof. For a state to be

obliged, it has to ratify the treaty. The said Convention or treaty has been

ratified by the Philippines4. What is the effect of a ratified treaty? The state

is bound by the provisions of the treaty and therefore its enforcement and

realization in the domestic level is expected. Normally, the implementation

of the said ratified treaty is a legislation which provides for the specific details

as to how the said treaty will be implemented domestically.

This convention affirms the fundamental rights of domestic workers

and sets out minimum labor standards for domestic workers5. In relation to

our topic, in Article 6 of convention 189, also known as Domestic Worker's

Convention, it provides for the fair terms of employment and decent living

conditions for the domestic workers. It also provides, in article 11, that a

minimum wage should exist for the domestic workers and should be without

discrimination based on sex.

Another important provision is the said treaty is In-kind payment is

allowed under 3 conditions:

(1) only a limited proportion of total remuneration; monetary

value is fair and reasonable;

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(2) the items or services given as in-kind payment are of

personal use by and benefit to the workers.

This means that uniforms or protective equipments are not to be

regarded as payment in kind, but as tools that the employer must provide to

the workers at no cost to them for the performance of their duties (Article

12).

Fees charged by private employment agencies are not to be deducted

from the remuneration (Article 15).

From the reading of the above provisions, we have observed that the

international law intends to advance and promote the decency of living of

the domestic workers around the globe. It provides its states members the

general framework of what the member's legislation should contain.

However, it is important to note that this frame work does not dwell into the

country's specific and actual economic situation. For example, America's

minimum wage can secure the daily basic needs of a person while a

minimum wage in another country, which economy is suffering from an

inflation may not be able to secure the basic daily needs of a person.

DOMESTIC LAW - REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10361

In our jurisdiction, a law was approved last January 18, 2013. AN ACT

INSTITUTING POLICIES FOR THE PROTECTION AND WELFARE OF

DOMESTIC WORKERS. In line with the provision of the above international

law, under the Section 2, Declaration of Policies, paragraph (b) of this law,

it was thereby declared that:

" The State adheres to internationally accepted working

conditions for workers in general, and establishes labor


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standards for domestic workers in particular, towards decent

employment and income, enhanced coverage of social

protection, respect for human rights and strengthened social

dialogue; "

Article 11 of the Convention On Domestic Workers has been complied with

when RA10361 and its succeeding augmentation of the minimum wage has

been effected. In Section 24 of RA 10361, it provides:

" SEC 24. Minimum Wage. – The minimum wage of domestic

workers shall not be less than the following:

(a) Two thousand five hundred pesos (P2,500.00) a month for

those employed in the National Capital Region (NCR);

(b) Two thousand pesos (P2,000.00) a month for those

employed in chartered cities and first class municipalities; and

(c) One thousand five hundred pesos (P1,500.00) a month for

those employed in other municipalities.

After one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act, and periodically

thereafter, the Regional Tripartite and Productivity Wage

Boards (RTPWBs) shall review, and if proper, determine and

adjust the minimum wage rates of domestic workers. "

It shows that the Philippines has well established the rights of the domestic

workers adhering to the international legal requirements with respect to the

payment of wages and setting therof.

REALITY OF COST OF LIVING IN NCR.

Strictly speaking, 3,500 pesos per month as the only source of

income, is an amount that cannot sustain at least one single person, in the

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National Capital Region, unless an extreme thriftiness will be exercised by

the person, which in such case, will surely render the person so deprived of

his essential needs such as shelter, clothing and food. As a proof, according

to the Philippine Statistics Authority, in the year 2015, the average annual

family expenditure was 215 thousand pesos2. Comparing this to the annual

42,000 annual income of a domestic worker, this is a significant difference.

DECENT LIVING

It is important to define Decent Living in the course of the discussion.

The keyword is decent. The Dictionary defines the word decent AS of an

acceptable standard; satisfactory. However, this word is indeed a big word

because ICESCR General Comment 12 states that what is ‘adequate’ ‘is to

a large extent determined by prevailing social, economic, cultural, climatic,

ecological and other conditions. The definition is therefore based on various

factors which, international law did not specifically dictate. It has given each

of the States the consideration and factors which are the point of reference

as to the definition of a decent living. It can be argued that a decent living

can be based on the eyes of the beholder. However, following this reason

would lead to non-standardization and the loosing of the parameters of one

of the socio-economic concept which if upheld, will lead to such concept be

deemed moot and academic.

It is also important to note that having a decent life does not mean just

to merely having enough or more than enough amount of money to buy the

basic daily needs of a person. It is beyond satisfying the survival mode of

living. It is not a life in a jungle which is survival of the fittest. Having a decent

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life also promotes a life which does not step on to others foot. It is a life

where you produce your daily needs without taking advantage to others

weakness or status in life. There are people who earn more than 3,500 per

day, they even earn it in an hour, but are stepping onto others life

disregarding other’s welfare.

This means that decent life is not just defined as to how much a

person earns.

LIVING WAGE VS MINIMUM WAGE

It has been well established that living wage is different from minimum

wage. The former means the minimum income necessary for a worker to

meet their basic needs5. The living wage differs from the minimum wage in

that the latter is set by national law and can fail to meet the requirements to

have a basic quality of life which leaves the family to rely on government

programs for additional income6.

Based from the above definition, living wage is a wage which would

require a government, through the employers, to ensure that a wage is

enough for a person to be able to buy the daily basic needs. This may not

even to mention the expenses that can be incurred and used for social

purposes such as celebration of holidays and celebration like birthdays and

anniversaries. Minimum wage is set by the government which does not

compel itself to require employers and make a computation in which each

citizen or workers should receive a daily monetary earning enough to buy

the daily basic needs. The question now is, “Why does the international law,

specifically the Convention for Domestic Workers only talks about minimum

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wage and not living wage?”. Should the international community elevate the

right to a living wage instead of just imposing the minimum wage?

SUMMARY

So far, we have established that the international law teaches the

importance of having a decent living and that it should be available to

everybody; that the international law promotes and advances the welfare of

domestic workers and their rights. It is indeed that international law is aware

of the exploitation and abuse experienced by the domestic workers.

International prescribes the minimum wage for domestic workers though not

specific as to how it will be implemented.

Philippines ratified the Convention on Domestic Workers. This means

that this convention should be enforced by means legally recognized in the

Philippines’ jurisdiction i.e. legislation. We have seen based on the foregoing

that the Philippines is compliant with such convention by passing the

Republic Act 10361 or also known as “Kasambahay Law”.

We have also discussed about the reality of the cost of living in the

National Capital Region where we have seen, statistically speaking, the

amount of the average of the expenditure of a family annually which also

shows that 3,500 pesos monetary earnings will surely not suffice to support

and sustain a living of not a family but at least a single person.

We have also discussed the meaning of decent living wherein we

have put stressed on its definition and went beyond the meaning by

stressing that a decent life is a life which is not merely earning monetarily

but also not taking advantage of someone’s weakness and status in life.

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Finally, we have covered the basic concept and difference of a living

wage and a minimum wage which, we learned that these two has a huge

difference which has influenced the finality of this short research and essay

work. These two concepts are very important as one has attained the status

of being considered as a right and the other has not. The definition and

difference of this has the majority influence and guide as to how the

researcher will conclude.

CONCLUSION

The researcher submits, based on the gathered facts that 3,500 pesos

per month as a minimum wage of the Domestic Workers in the Philippines

as prescribed by the “Kasambahay Law” pursuant to the International Law

will not give a decent life to the workers. This is so because practically

speaking, 3,500 is not just enough to sustain a single person to live in the

National Capital Region. The cost of food and pace of life will devour the

said amount by which it may only last for 3-4 days of spending considering

the costs. This is so as far as practicality is concerned. As we have

discussed, decency of living is undoubted to those who never thought of

taking advantage of someone’s weakness and status but pursue a noble

way of living despite scarcity. There are people who earn at least 3,500

pesos per month as a domestic worker but whose life values and principles

are priceless, hence a decent living.

In the international arena, the researcher understands the difficulty in

imposing the required amount of salary to sustain a person for his daily basic

needs, towards the states. It is just impossible to do so without fully

understanding the volatility of each and every state to come up to a concrete

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plan as to impose a minimum wage able to sustain a person’s daily basic

needs. Nevertheless, this is not impossible to attain per se, it just requires

tremendous amount of work in which at this age, where international

community faces problems that are all “urgent” “priority” and “important”, it

seems that such may not be attained.

The researcher also submits that, in relation to the right to a living

wage, it may not really be possible at this point in time since, as previously

discussed, where international community faces problems that are all

“urgent” “priority” and “important”, it seems that such may not be attained.

The researcher believes that the International Community promotes decent

living for the domestic workers but due to considerable factors in each states

and governments, there are things that the International Law cannot

intervene into and where the sovereignty of the state shall be respected.

Hence, the researcher understands that as of the moment, International law

can only provide for the minimum wage requirement. Nevertheless, the

setting of the minimum wage should be based on a reason. Right to a living

wage is not just one sided as employers needs to be included in this matter.

On the side of the coin, if a stricter requirement and higher requirement of

wage is imposed, there will be a substantial reduction of employers which

will prejudice the availability of employment. It is challenging to know that

here in the Philippines, our domestic workers are indeed hardworking and

would rather earn 3,500 pesos per month instead of planting kamote tops in

their own back yard and starve.

There are Domestic Workers which are very lucky who found to be in

good and kind employer who gave them even more than what is prescribed

by the law. However, there are still a lot of domestic Filipino workers, locally

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and internationally, that are in the darkness and experiences abuse and

violence. On the aspect as to whether a decent living can be attained by our

domestic workers, the researcher submits that yes, a decent living can be

attained theoretically by having a noble passion in your work but practically

not due to the fact of the cost of living in the NCR is substantially high.

On the other aspect of the study, it provides as whether 3,500 pesos

is humane. Based on the foregoing discussion prior to conclusion, the

researcher submits that it is indeed humane. For the same to be inhumane,

it should deprive a person the ability to earn for his sustenance without a

reason. On the foregoing discussion, the International Aspect can’t just

seem to impose the requirement of the so called living wage and it cant be

charged as being the cause of inhumanity as its non-imposition is based on

a reason as previously mentioned.

Finally, the researcher submits and recommends that the employer

now has the control over this matter and this may change the course of the

world as far as Domestic Workers are concerned if each household

employer will give its best, as much as it can, to provide for the domestic

worker the compensation he deserves. The researcher pleads that each

household employer respects the rights of each domestic employer in the

Philippines. Voluntarily giving them more than 3,500 pesos per month

excluding the benefits makes the world different. It is impractical now to go

to rally and advance the living wage concept and make it a right or to plead

to congress to increase the minimum wage. The change of the country shall

be accelerated by the help of the citizen in doing their moral duties and

obligations based on reason.


1
http://news.trust.org//slideshow/?id=4ae720ba-7ee3-4a29-ae5d-9488d55893a3
2
https://psa.gov.ph/content/average-family-income-2015-estimated-22-thousand-pesos-monthly-results-2015-
family-income

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3
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Treaties_of_the_Philippines
4
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Treaties_of_the_Philippines
5
http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/documents/genericdocument/wcms_208561.pdf
6
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_wage
7
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_wage

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