Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said Thursday that the new Standard Employment Contract (SEC) for domestic workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) will become a model for future contracts in other destination countries for Filipino household service workers (HSWs).

Binay, the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) Concerns, said that the SEC, “in all its features taken as one package” will now be a model for employee-employer relationships in other countries.

The Vice President also lauded the Saudi government, saying it “has extended to the Philippine government all the needed assistance to protect our workers.”

“With the new agreement, both governments can work together in enforcing a stronger regulatory regime for the deployment of HSWs and ensure that abuse and exploitation of our HSWs are stopped,” he added.

Among the provisions in the contract include increase of the minimum wage of HSWs from $200 to $400 per month.

“This has always been the cause of friction in the past because there were oral contracts entered into by recruiters and the workers, making them understand such an amount. But this time it is already embodied in the contract,” Binay said.

Binay said with the SEC in place, employers are now required to pay HSWS via the banking system to ensure that wages are paid fully and on time.

“If you visit our shelter houses in the Middle East, many of (the HSWs) are complainants of not receiving their salaries. In this particular instance, the monthly monitoring will be done through monthly deposits to be made in the bank,” he added.

HSWs are also required to be given at least eight hours of rest daily and one day off work per week.

Moreover, a worker is entitled to return to the Philippines for a paid vacation leave of 30 days for every two years of service with a round-trip economy class ticket.  In case the HSW decides to renew his/her contract with the employer, he/she is entitled to receive an additional one month salary.

In case of death, the employer is responsible for the repatriation of the HSW remains and personal belongings to the Philippines as soon as legally possible and without undue delay.  In case the repatriation of remains is not possible, the same may be disposed of after obtaining the approval of one of the HSW’s next of kin or by the Philippine embassy.

Furthermore, the Vice President emphasized that employers can no longer keep the passports of their HSWs.

“In fact, what they usually do abroad in the past would be upon arrival (of the HSWs), (the employers) already take hold of the passport,” he said.