The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday announced that the deployment of household service workers (HSWs) to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will resume at the end of the month.
In a press statement, Labor Undersecretary Claro Arellano, head of the Philippine delegation, said the sending of Filipino workers to the Arab country will resume on March 31 which was agreed upon during a two-day Joint Committee Meeting in Manila from Monday to Tuesday.
Arellano said the measure will now be covered by a Unified Employment Contract (UEC) that provides stringent measures to protect Filipino HSWs pursuant to the directives of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The deployment of HSWs to the UAE has been suspended since 2014.
Under the unified contract, both the employer and the Foreign Recruitment Agencies, and the Philippine Recruitment Agencies are bound by joint and solidary liability should anything happen to the Filipino workers.
“We are grateful for the cooperation of our counterparts,” Arellano said in a statement.
The same provisions were in the standard employment contract being used in Kuwait.
The four-party contract, which becomes an addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding on Labor Cooperation with Annex Protocol on Domestic Workers, incorporates the President’s instructions for specific provisions to ensure the safety and well-being of HSWs, as follows:
1. The right of the domestic worker to take at least eight (8) continuous hours of sleep every night;
2. The right of the domestic worker to take a break that is paid, outside the residence of the employer at least one full day every week;
3. The right of the domestic worker to keep his/her passport or identification documents and the employer is not allowed to hold them;
4. The employer shall allow the domestic worker to have and use cellular phones and other communication devices and the employer is prohibited from confiscating them;
5. Opening of bank account under the name of the domestic worker for payment of salary; and
6. Allowing the domestic workers to cook her or his own food.
Another provision in the agreement is the conversion of tourist/visit visa to working visa. As agreed during the JCM, POLO will be notified when a visit visa is converted to an employment visa for a Filipino domestic worker.
The Philippines reiterated its position to deploy the workers through the legal channel and the conversion of tourist visa to working visa is therefore not recommended since this may lead to illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons.
Meanwhile, the UAE promised to provide a modified UEC that reflects the PH side proposed addendum in the next JCM as well as during the discussion by the Technical Working Group on the electronic system and linkage, both sides agreed that the Addendum will already be implemented for the immediate resumption of the deployment of domestic workers under manual process
The UAE delegation is headed by Saif Ahmed Alsuwaidi, undersecretary of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
For his part, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III hailed the agreement as a milestone in the government’s efforts to further protect Filipino overseas workers.