MANILA, Philippines—Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may soon be provided with compulsory insurance to cover monetary claims or damages awarded to them in the course of doing their jobs.
This was one of the new protection measures enshrined in a proposed bill to improve the standards of protection and assistance for migrant workers.
The proposed measure, which has passed the third reading in the House of Representatives, seeks to amend the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.
Under the bill, recruitment agencies will be required to take out compulsory employment liability insurance for each worker they deploy abroad. The insurance should be secured at no cost to the worker, and would be used for money claims or damages awarded the worker in a judgment or settlement of his case.
The insurance benefit per worker will be the equivalent of three months of his salary for every year of contract.
If the agency is found to have made the worker pay for the insurance premium, the recruitment agency will lose its license and its officials will be barred from engaging in the recruitment business.
The bill also slaps stiffer penalties on officials and employees of the Department of Labor and Employment who unlawfully allow Filipinos to work in countries that have no guarantees to protect them.
Those who violate this measure will be dismissed from government service and disqualified from holding an appointive public office for five years.
The bill requires government agencies involved in sending Filipino workers abroad to provide Congress with a semi-annual report on their progress.
Bohol Rep. Edgar Chatto, one of the bill’s authors, said that it was imperative for the government to lead the way in protecting the rights of overseas Filipino workers. Both the workers and the country would benefit if their rights were secure, he said.
“If amply protected, they will continue to remit the needed income for the support of their families as well as contribute to the fiscal growth of the government,” Chatto said in a statement.–Leila Salaverria, Philippine Daily Inquirer