In 1995, the Congress passed Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act, which aims to protect and promote the welfare of migrant workers as well as their families. This includes instituting policies on deployment with other countries and fight against illegal recruitment among others.
15 years after, Congress amended the Migrant Workers Act, known as Republic Act No. 10022, to help adapt to changing times. It became a law on March 8, 2010.
You might be wondering how this law affects you. The answer is A LOT. Below are the key points you need to know to ensure that your rights as a migrant worker is protected.
Definition of Overseas Filipino Worker
According to the law, OFW or migrant worker is a person to be engaged, is engaged, or has been engaged in an activity for a consideration in a place where s/he is not a citizen. This also includes individuals who are on board a vessel navigating in foreign seas other than a government ship used for military or non-commercial purposes or an installation located on high seas or offshore.
Deployment of Migrant Workers
Filipino migrant workers will only be deployed in countries where their rights are protected. Said countries must have existing labor and social laws that includes protection of rights of migrant workers, signatory to or ratifier of declarations or conventions that protects rights of workers, and has a concluded bilateral agreement with the Philippine government.
Consequently, countries that accept migrant workers must take positive and concrete measures to ensure that the rights of the workers are protected. At the same time, these countries must be compliant with international rules and standards on migrant workers. Otherwise, a No Permit for Deployment will be issued by POEA, after consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
This is defined as any act of canvassing, contracting, enlisting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers for employment overseas, regardless if it’s for profit or not by an agency that is not registered and authorized by the Labor Department. Promises, referrals, and advertisements of employment abroad are also considered as acts of illegal recruitment.
Consequently, the law defined the term illegal recruitment by syndicate, which means illegal recruitment was carried out by a group of three or more persons conspiring and confederating with one another to commit illegal acts.
Illegal recruitment activities include but not limited to:
- Charging an amount that is higher than the amount indicated in the schedule of allowable fees.
- Publishing false information or notice related to recruitment or employment.
- Recruitment or placement of workers in jobs harmful to public health or morality.
- Withholding or denying travel documents from applicant workers before departure due to monetary or financial considerations.
- Allowing non-Filipino citizen to manage or head a licensed recruitment / manning agency.
- Failure to submit pertinent recruitment information to the Department of Labor and Employment such as job vacancies, status of employment of deployed workers, departure, and separation from jobs among others.
- Imposing a compulsory and exclusive arrangement to applicant workers to avail of a loan ONLY on specified entities or persons.
- Imposing a compulsory and exclusive arrangement to applicant workers to undergo medical or health examination on specific and designated medical clinics. This also includes attending trainings on designated training centers.
Take note that victims of illegal recruitment will be provided with free legal assistance.
National Reintegration Center for Overseas Filipino Workers
Also known as NRCO, this center was created by DOLE for returning OFWs to help in the reintegration process, serve as a promotion house for local employment, and help in tapping and developing skills for national development. The center will be open 24 hours, seven days a week, including holidays.
Below are some of NRCO’s specific mandates:
- Develop and support programs for livelihood, savings, investment, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship.
- Coordinate with appropriate stakeholders and institutions for promotion and development of OFWs.
- Come up with a computer-based information system on returning OFWs, which will also be accessible to recruitment agencies and employers.
- Develop and implement programs that will help promote the welfare of returning Filipino migrant workers.
- Conduct research for policy recommendation and program development.
Compulsory Insurance Coverage for Agency-Hired Workers
According to the amended law, ALL agency-hired workers will be covered by a compulsory insurance coverage policy and secured at no cost to the worker. It is effective for the entire duration of the worker’s employment contract and cover:
- Accidental death with at least USD 15,000 survivor’s benefit payable to the migrant worker’s beneficiary. The insurance provider shall likewise arrange and pay for the return of the worker’s remains.
- Permanent total disablement with at least USD 7,500 disability benefit payable to the migrant worker.
- Repatriation cost when the employment was terminated without just or valid cause, including transport of personal belongings.
- Subsistence allowance benefit of at least USD 100 per month for a maximum of six months if migrant worker is involved in a case or is in litigation.
- Money claims arising from employer’s liability.
Aside from monetary benefits, migrant worker is entitled to compassionate visit by one family member in case s/he is confined in the hospital. Medical evacuation and repatriation must also be afforded to the migrant worker when necessary.
The recruitment agency can freely choose an insurance provider PROVIDED that it is duly registered with the Insurance Commission and is operational for at least P500 million. The recruitment agency must provide an authenticated copy of the insurance policy after procurement since such policy is needed to help secure the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).
Claims must be paid by the insurance company without any contest and as soon as substantiated proof was presented.
Know your rights.