Actress and influencer Isabelle Daza posted an IG story of her contract for household helpers which became a trend a couple of months ago. While she certainly deserves kudos for being a great employer, a lot of what she included in the contract are actually mandated by law: Republic Act No. 10361 otherwise known as the Domestic Workers Act (Batas Kasambahay) has been enforced since June of 2013. Till then, people didn’t really have such regulations and relied mostly on common sense. If this is the first time you are hiring help for your home, reading and fully understanding this gazette is a must. Additionally, here are a few tips to get you started.
You can choose to follow the excellent example made by Isabelle Daza and create your own, or use the model contracts created by DOLE. They are available for download in English and twelve local dialects such as Ilokano, Kapampangan, etc. Just make sure they’re in a language your helper can easily understand. This seems a bit obvious but is still often neglected. You need to sit down with your helper and thoroughly discuss the provisions of this contract point by point, and welcome any questions they might have. The required inclusions of the contract are in Article 3, Sec 11 of the official gazette. Having the contract and a comprehensive discussion of it protects both parties.
Tailoring the job description is a smart idea, even if you get to hire experienced domestic workers. Your needs and wants are going to be unique, and no two people do things the exact same way. Set clear expectations and let them know what you’re strict on. Remember that your helper is not a mind-reader. So, let them know what matters most to you and in what order, as well. When they do something you don’t like, use it as an opportunity to set boundaries. Your house, your rules–so long as they’re within reason of course.
When interviewed by Boy Abunda on the reaction of her helpers to the contract, Isabelle Daza said that, “They were very touched because they didn’t feel they deserved one.” We’ve often seen horror stories of helpers on social media stealing from employers or running away, but how often do we really read about the unfortunate plight of domestic workers? Unless you’re watching a drama on TV, it’s not really something we talk or even actively think about. Majority of them didn’t even finish high school and sadly, this fact is used to the advantage of employers who don’t fully disclose the benefits helpers are entitled to. So, letting your helpers know about their rights to things like the mandatory 13th month pay, paid breaks, leave benefits, SSS contributions, etc. is only right.
In the corporate world, managing people is a very valuable skill that takes education and years of experience to fully cultivate. Sharing your home with someone doing domestic work wears that professionalism down. Still, it’s best to use proven management tools to run your household, like providing adequate hands-on training, giving consistent feedback, using positive language (even just “thank you” or “please”), adjusting your communication style to her level, and being aware of the learning curve. These are basic things you would want out of your own boss, so be that kind of boss to your helper and you will be rewarded with good performance.
By nature, we tend to communicate more when we see mistakes and say nothing when things are going well. The simple act of praising work well done is a great motivator. When helpers perform to or above your standards, reward them. It doesn’t always have to be monetary, but of course being generous with pay allows them to send more money to their own families or keep it for themselves. Be genuine with compliments and treat them with respect and kindness. Also, don’t rely too much on your helper. Treating someone well means not making them do the little things you can do for yourself.