(Last of two parts)
EXTRAS LIKE gifts, 13th month pay, paid leaves or travel fare are usually hinged on a yaya’s tenure, performance, and character.
“If and when there is merit to give a little bit more for a job well done, consistency with her work, initiative to do better, I offer to pay for her monthly toiletry supply, which will be about P200-P250,” revealed Gianna, a working mom of two. “Once or twice I gave free cell phone loads. I even brought our yaya with us on a trip abroad, all expenses paid. I am, however, very careful as to when and to what extent I give incentives.”
Days-off varied from weekly to monthly, with more frequent days-off sometimes equating to lower pay. Yayas from far provinces usually don’t avail of days-off, since most if not all of their money is remitted to their families back home, and they usually prefer longer paid leaves.
Marketing executive and mom Jane says her son’s yaya doesn’t really take days-off. “So she gets paid vacation for two weeks, twice a year. And, because we like her and are really looking for people to help, we offered to pay for her daughter’s college tuition. We are also looking at getting her SSS,” she said.
Fanny, a working mom of three, has two yayas who go out twice a month but not at the same time. “I provide their shampoo, soap and toothpaste every month. If they stay for a year, they’re entitled to 15 days paid leave and airfare. Both are also enrolled in SSS.”
A working dad, Paul gives his daughter’s yaya 13th month pay plus travel allowance for her yearly vacation, as well as SSS and Philhealth, with the option to take a day-off every week.
Lara provides food, toiletries, and fare for her yaya to go home twice a month. “If provincial ang uwi, I give them one-way ferry ticket after a year’s service, round-trip after two years,” she said.
“One of our yayas has been with my family for over 17 years,” shared Liza, working mom of two. “She started really young, came straight from the province, didn’t know much about household work, could not cook, and had to be taught personal hygiene. She now gets P4,500 a month plus variable cash incentives on her birthday, Christmas, or when my sisters and relatives visit from abroad because she’s like family na.
She gets other perks like cell phone, airfare when she goes home for a vacation and when she comes with us on trips. Her base pay may be low considering her tenure but the incentives, plus perks, do make up for it.”
On top of a P6,000/month salary, Queenie adds monthly movie night for her yayas with the rest of the housegirls. “We drop them off at Festival Mall and pick them up afterward. On their birthdays, we have food delivered for them,” she said. Other employers give movie passes.
Dad and entrepreneur Fred focused on continuing education by enrolling his daughter’s yaya in beauty school. She takes weekly classes at Muntinlupa city hall. “She does hair rebonding jobs on the side, usually on weekends,” Fred added.
Most of the respondents offer full to partial coverage of medical expenses. A usual requirement is a chest X-ray to clear for tuberculosis. Some even cover for their helps’ vitamin, dental and optical needs to ensure a healthy worker.
Yayas under Fanny’s employ get an annual flu shot. Gianna’s get flu shots, dental visits, generic vitamin C and medications (e.g. for fever, headache, stomach pain). Liza covers her yayas’ medical expenses, as needed.
Marissa, a working mom of two, provides for her two boys’ yaya a P1,200 Healthway card, including annual checkup and unlimited consultation with their family doctor and internist, SSS and Philhealth. “We start it three months into employment,” she explained. “We also help out whenever they have medical needs, like when our yaya had an infection and needed antibiotics.”
Working mom of one Hannah added, “We have known our yaya for close to 12 years. She has two days-off every month. She is more like family to us so I also buy her medicines for hypertension and diabetes, which is about P1,500/month.”
Some respondents extend small loans to their yayas, for buying a cell phone, for instance. Some yayas need more than what they can afford. Rod, an entrepreneur and father of a five-year-old, grants cash advance and loans to his yaya, who now gets P5,000/month on top of weekly days-off and a one-month bonus.
“We allow them to advance salary for emergency cases but limit it to the amount of their monthly wage, and then deduct P500 per payday,” added Marissa.
Liza shared, “Typically, they would ask for their one to two months’ salary in advance, part to leave for their family and part to help them get started.”
As I now go through my screening process, I am learning about yayas’ expectations, as well. Those from the province with contacts in Manila more or less know their worth and have an asking price, which is usually negotiable. Those with plans of applying as domestic helpers abroad tend to be better educated (college level, I was shocked to learn) and so intend to stay with you for one to two years at the most; they consider working in Manila as training and exposure for their dream to work abroad.
Some are sadly exploited, with tasks continually added to their list of responsibilities with no additional pay or help. Should they ask to leave, their salaries are unfairly withheld until their employers find a suitable replacement.
One lady I interviewed wanted to leave her employer because she was working as an all-around maid for the family of five plus their in-laws next door, plus a newborn baby for only P3,500/month.
What are yayas expected to do, exactly? Some employers have their yayas focus on their babies only, just like IT executive and mother of two Sophie, whose yaya is accountable for everything regarding the baby, including washing and ironing baby stuff and food preparation.
Since mom of one Lynn works full time, “I leave the yaya ‘lesson plans’ for my son, so she makes sure to go through them with him,” she said. “I love her because she’s very matiyaga.”
Gianna added, “Our yaya primarily takes care of and plays with my son, guides my daughter and plays with her, does the laundry and ironing of the children’s clothes, cleans the children’s rooms and toys. She speaks very good English and also offered to be our back-up cook when my dad, my husband, or I don’t have time to cook.”
Taking on such extra tasks does not necessarily mean extra pay. For Lara, each of her yayas takes care of two kids and shares in the housework. “I do not have separate household help,” she said.
In Eloisa’s case, her yaya takes care of her seven-month-old, washes his clothes, cooks his food, and cleans his bottles. “She also cleans the banyo thrice a week, cleans the house when she can and washes the dishes. Sometimes we tell her to cook rice and prito,” the working mom of two added.
Paul and Angelo, both working dads of one, also have their yayas do some housework.
The yaya’s extra responsibilities could also be related to how old the children are. Shared Mia, entrepreneur mom of two: “I used to have two yayas, one for each kid when they were smaller. When the boys got older, I had a yaya and an assistant yaya. Now we just have one yaya, and our other helper is the one who assists the yaya since the boys are more independent now.”
Hannah is equipping her son’s yaya with an additional skill in line with her additional role. “I am about to put her through driving school because I would rather she drove my son to and from school rather than employ a full-time driver,” she said. “I’m thinking of just getting her an assistant yaya when I eventually ‘upskill’ her to become a driver.” This is a great idea, since a driver usually costs so much more.
From this little research I learned what we have to be flexible in our offerings, since yayas have different goals and needs. Being sensitive to them can only bring about better experiences for everyone concerned.
Keeping our nannies happy is one way to ensure that our precious ones will be treated well. When deciding on her salary plus benefits package, let’s keep in mind that we are buying not only a temporary stand-in for our parental presence, but also our peace of mind.