OFW Guide: How To Seek Legal Assistance Through POEA

It’s never easy being an Overseas Filipino Worker. Despite the promise of a better life, there is always a possibility that your dreams of an improved future won’t happen. If you’re not too careful, you might even be a victim of illegal recruitment.

That being said, what is your legal remedy in case you became a victim of illegal recruitment? Can you file a case against the illegal recruiter? If yes, where should you file it? What is the procedure you need to follow to make sure that the illegal recruiter pays for what he did?

Here’s what you need to know about POEA’s Legal Assistance Services:

Coverage of Legal Assistance Services:

Legal Advice – this offers counselling services wherein repatriated workers are informed of rights as well as possible options for redress of grievances.

Conciliation – this gives both the repatriated worker/s and recruitment agency an opportunity to discuss and possibly come up with an amicable settlement. Per POEA, parties must undergo 30-day mandatory conciliation-mediation before a complaint will be filed in the Adjudication Office for the following cases:

  • Administrative complaint involving OFW, licensed manning agency, or employer relating to overseas employment
  • Issues arising from labor and employment

In case parties are unable to settle, the POEA Conciliation Unit will issue a Certificate of Failure to Conciliate.

On the other hand, the following cases are NOT required to undergo mandatory conciliation-mediation proceeding:

  • Cases referred by POLO
  • Cases initiated by the POEA
  • Cases involving acts of misrepresentation to secure license
  • Violations of POEA Rules and Regulations involving serious offenses
  • Offenses penalized with cancellation of license
  • Complaints against agencies with revoked, cancelled, or delisted license
  • Disciplinary actions against land-based workers and seafarers, which are either considered serious offenses or carry the penalty of delisting from the POEA Registry at first offense
  • Other complaints included in the POEA Rules that are not subject to compulsory mediation

Preparation and Filing of Complaints – if the case prospers, the agency, through Legal Assistance Division, may help in the preparation and filing of complaints for illegal recruitment, disciplinary action cases, and other forms of recruitment violations.

Counseling – this is done during preliminary investigation and and hearings of criminal cases for illegal recruitment.

Procedure in Availing POEA’s Legal Assistance Services:

Before you proceed, you need to make an appointment to ensure that the agency will assist you when you arrive. Consequently, this assures the agency that the assistance is extended to OFWs only.

Click this link to make an appointment. Make sure to tick the box that indicates “Legal” under “Assistance” tab for the purpose of such request.

Once you made an appointment, here are the other steps you need to do on the day of your schedule:

  1. Proceed to Legal Assistance Division, 4th floor of the POEA Building.
  2. Get and fill out a Verification Form from the guard-on-duty.
  3. Secure an OFW Information Sheet from the Central Records Division, 6th floor, POEA Building.
  4. Submit the documents, Info Sheet and Verification Form, at Window 3, Licensing Branch, 4th floor of the POEA Main Building. The LB Verifications Officer will verify your status as OFW.
  5. Once your status is verified, submit the verified documents to the Legal Assistance Division or LAD Officer. Wait for your name to be called.
  6. When you’re called, go to the designated Legal Officer for counselling or legal assistance. The Legal Officer will also help you in the preparation or filing of a complaint form.
  7. Submit the duly accomplished complaint form to the Legal Officer. You will also be asked to swear under oath as to the truthfulness of the facts contained in the complaint.
  8. File the complaint at the Conciliation Unit, 2nd floor of the POEA Main Building if proper for conciliation OR Docket and Enforcement Division, 3rd floor of the same building.

For further details, you may contact:

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
Legal Assistance Division
4th Floor, BFO Building
EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue Mandaluyong City
Telephone Nos.: 721-0619/722-1189
Email: legal-asst@poea.gov.ph

27 Replies to “OFW Guide: How To Seek Legal Assistance Through POEA”

  1. Tanong lang po..na repat po ako nung april 2019..tpos pinagamot dn po ako ng opisina..tpos na fit to work po ako ng company doctor..ang kaso kopo eh hanggang ngayon d pa dn po nila ako pinapasakay parang pina paasa lang po ako ng line up..matagal na po ako bakasyon.

    1. Hi Jeff. Did you follow up with the manning agency already? Are you also sure that the agency is a legitimate one? As much as we want to help, there could be issues in your application that only the agency you are transacting with knows.

  2. Hello po manghihingi po sana ako ng tulong or advice kung may laban po ba ako sa rccl company ko po na dinismis po nila ako pero naka bakasyon narin po ako at yung klase ng imbistigasyon po nila ay nangyari lang po sa loob ng barko..Kahit po may witness ako hindi rin po nila pinakinggan at nabigla nalang po ako may narecieved akong email galing HR na for dismissal na po ako at nakansela po yung next assignment ko po..Ano po ba gagawin ko dahil hindi po makatao ginawa nila saken..Salamat po

    1. Hi Marichu. As much as we want to help, matters like this must be consulted with a lawyer. The post indicates the procedure on how to avail legal assistance as well. Thanks!

  3. Can I file a complain in behalf of my partner abroad against Agency who collected excessive placement fee?. We are not married but we have our child birth certificate as proof and a statement of account from Lending agency as his comaker. what are the required documents to file a complain?

    1. Hi Anna. We’re not sure if SPA will suffice. Please consult a lawyer regarding this matter since they can assist you better. Thanks!

    2. I am a OFW still employed but i’m having issue with my employer, I need some confidential advice can you help.

      1. Hello Cris! As much as we want to, we are not lawyers. We don’t want to risk giving wrong advice, so we suggest that you coordinate with a lawyer regarding this. Thanks and we hope you’re well.

  4. Hi Michael. It is best to consult a lawyer regarding this since mas familiar sila sa mga legal matters. Thanks and apologies if we cannot help on this issue.

  5. Magandang araw po hingi lang po ng advice kung anu ang dapat nmin gawin…
    5 months palang po kami dito sa kuwait Since nagkaroon ng lockdown dito sa kuwait ang restaurant na pinagtatrabahuhan ko ay isinara..at namili lng cla ng ibang staff na pag dyudyutihin sa ibang restau na sister company..ung mga indi napili pahinga daw po muna ..pero no work no pay sagot lng nila ay ung upa nmin sa bahay..pinapili din po nila kami na pede kami magbakasyon at balik nlng pag nakaahon na ang company..or uwi na kmi ng pinas sagot nila ticket at babayaran kmi ng 3 months salary pero indi namin makukuha agad..magaanty pa daw kami sa pinas kung kelan kaya na ibigay ng company ung 3 months salary..naguguluhan po ako ibig sabihin ba ay itineterminate na nila kmi kasi magbbgay cla nh 3 months salary un nga d nmin agad makukuha at wlang kasiguraduhan kung makukuha pa nmin…ayaw din po nila magbigay ng release paper para makalipat nlng kmi sa ibang company..kung magstay daw po kmi dto sa kuwait ay antayin daw po nmin kung kelan kami pabalikin..ang dinig ko ay after ramadan pa daw po..d nmn po kami tatagal ng ganun na walang aasahang kita sa loob ng 3 months..tama po ba ang ginagawa smin ng company?..plsss po pakitulungan po kami..maraming salamat po

    1. Hi Anthony. Normal lang na hindi agad makukuha ang sahod kung ite-terminate ang contract at pababalikin kayo sa Pilipinas. May proseso pa na sinusunod bago ma-release ang pera. Maaari din po kayo makipag-coordinate sa Philippine Embassy / OWWA since sila po ang mas makakatulong at makakapagbigay ng tamang advice ng dapat gawin. Salamat.

    1. Hi Sandra. We’re not sure if they are open, but we assume they have a skeletal workforce. You may try calling them. Thanks!

  6. Good day po.. January 31 2020 pa po ako naka dating dito sa pinas.. 11 months ako sa barko.. march 31 2020 na po ngayon ung remaining balace ko hindi pa rin binibigay ng company ko.. sa rules ng POEA ay not exceeding 1 month pwede ko ba i reklamo ang company ko.. need opinion po.. salamat..

    1. Hi Jay mar. Ideally, maibigay within one month. Pero may mga pagkakataon na sosobra talaga dahil maraming proseso para ma-release. Paki-follow up nalang sa company mo kung kailan makukuha ang balanse. Salamat.

  7. Good afternoon po. Yung mama ko po kase yung nasa abroad. Tuwing nagkakamustahan kami parati nyang sinasabi sakin na di sya pinapakain nang amo nya at parati syang nagooverwork. Mas tumindi netong naglockdown na. Ano po ang maipapayo nyo po. Maraming salamat po.

    1. Hello Pauline. We’re sorry to hear about this. Can your mother go to the Philippine Embassy? She can coordinate with them para mapauwi narin ang mama mo. Stay safe!

  8. Good day. May I seek assistance po. I am from Bicol and I have signed a contract with my agency. I went home to Bicol last March 12 and my agency required me to report to Manila before the lockdown so I was able to get an expensive flight (on my own pocket) on March 14th. Afterwards they do not have any advise on my board and lodging and when will be my departure to join my assigned ship. Last March 16 I was able to get a copy from a colleague who is on my assigned ship that there will be no more change crew hence my agency is not answering any of my querries. I was waiting for their instructions until March 18 hence no reply was given. I was able to make it home to Legazpi taking a private vehicle with my sister and her family last March 19. Please advise on what benefits I can avail of? Thank you.

    1. Hello Renan! Have you contacted your agency again? You can check with POEA regarding legal remedies against agencies since they are more knowledgeable on this. We’re very sorry to hear about this experience.

  9. tanong ko lang po saan pwede humingi ng tulong regarding sa loan ko sa pinas . Masyadong mataas na ang penalties at charges ang binibigay sakin . Salamat po

    1. Hello Barbarra. We’re sorry to hear about this. Lenders impose certain charges for late payment. We suggest that you coordinate with your lender as well para mapababa ang fees. Stay safe!

  10. Hi.

    We want to file a legal comaint to our agency. We sent to the stated email above (legal-asst@poea.gov.ph) but it seems the email does not exist as it bounced back to my email.
    Can you please assist me to get a valid email wher we can send for our complaints against our recruitment agency.

    Thanks and regards.

  11. Hello ! Tanong lang if pwede maavail tong services na ito kahit andito pa kami sa abroad ? Nakapag file na po ako ng complaint sa POLO – Riyadh Office , and isa sa mga advice nila is pwede daw kami makahingi ng tulong o magparescue kami sa POEA.

    1. Hi Michael. Yes, you can avail these services. Please coordinate with the Philippine Embassy as well in case. Thanks and we hope you’re safe!

  12. Hi Good day.! Mam/Sir is it possible to file a libel case against a ofw who is in Macau at the Moment. ? What are the legal process we need to follow.?

    1. Hi Angel. We suggest that you talk directly to a lawyer. They are more equipped in answering this question since they are more familiar with the legal procedures. Thanks!

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