Senator Christopher “Bong” Go commended the recent enactment of Republic Act No. 11965, also known as the Caregivers’ Welfare Act, which was signed into law by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on November 23. Go co-authored and co-sponsored the bill, which was principally sponsored by Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
The Caregivers’ Welfare Act addresses the pressing need to safeguard the rights of caregivers, ensuring they receive fair treatment, decent employment, and protection against abuse, harassment, violence, and economic exploitation.
The scope of the new law covers caregivers employed in private homes, nursing or care facilities, and other residential settings. This includes caregivers hired directly by employers and those placed through the Public Employment Services Office and Private Employment Agency.
“Kilala po ang ating mga kababayan sa mundo dahil sa kanilang dedikasyon at husay sa trabaho. Naka-marka sa ating pagka-Pilipino ang pagmamahal at malasakit sa iba, kahit sila ay hindi natin kadugo o kapamilya. Ganyan po magtrabaho ang ating mga caregivers, katumbas ng pagmamahal sa kanilang pamilya ang ibinubuhos nilang pangangalaga,” Go said previously.
“As the Chair of the Committee on Health and Demography, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the invaluable contribution of our Filipino caregivers to the healthcare industry. Hindi natin maikakaila ang hirap ng trabaho ng isang caregiver. Madalas ay iniiwan nila ang kanilang pamilya upang suportahan ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay. Kasama sa kanilang pagsusumikap sa buhay ang kalungkutang mawalay sa kanilang pamilya,’ he continued.
Key provisions of the law focus on regulating caregivers’ working conditions, ensuring fair compensation, and providing essential benefits. According to the legislation, caregivers’ working hours will be stipulated in their employment contracts, and they will be entitled to overtime pay for hours beyond the daily eight working hours. Moreover, a night shift differential with a minimum wage not less than the applicable regional minimum wage is mandated for those working night shifts.
Meanwhile, caregivers who have served for at least one month are entitled to a 13th-month pay, disbursed no later than December 24 of each year or upon separation from employment. Additionally, those who have rendered at least one year of service are eligible for a leave credit of at least five days with pay.
In addition to these provisions, caregivers will now be covered by social security benefits including Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Pag-IBIG Fund, and “all benefits in accordance with the pertinent provisions provided by law.”
Go then emphasized the importance of these measures, saying, “The Caregivers’ Welfare Act is a crucial step towards recognizing the vital role caregivers play in our society. It not only ensures their fair treatment and protection but also acknowledges the sacrifices they make in caring for our loved ones.”
He also acknowledged the hard work of medical frontliners who continue to make valuable contributions and sacrifices to safeguard the well-being of every Filipino patient especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would like to thank our doctors, nurses, caregivers, and frontliners who – despite the challenges that pandemic brings – continue to selflessly provide healthcare especially in the grassroots particulary for the poor,” Go expressed.
Meanwhile, Go reiterated his appeal to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Health (DOH) to fast-track the release of the Health Emergency Allowances (HEA) still due to healthcare workers, including qualified caregivers hired in health facilities, who served during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As one of the authors and co-sponsors of Republic Act 11712, Go stated that the law provided for continuing benefits and allowances to healthcare workers during public health emergencies. Despite the lifting of the state of public health emergency in July, many healthcare workers have yet to receive their HEA.
In 2019, the lawmaker was also instrumental in the enactment of RA 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law 5 (SSL 5) as one of its authors and co-sponsors in the Senate. The measure provides all civilian government employees, including caregivers working in the public sector, increased salaries broken down in tranches. The senator also expressed his support for the proposal of another salary increase for government workers.