DOLE studying pay hike for overseas household service workers

Published by rudy Date posted on April 13, 2011

MANILA, Philippines –  Filipino household service workers (HSWs) employed overseas may soon enjoy higher pay.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday reported that the government is looking at the possibility of raising the minimum salary rate of HSWs deployed abroad.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is expected to come out with new requirements in two weeks, including minimum salary rates on hiring of HSWs.

“The POEA is reviewing the existing reform package for HSWs and has already instructed them to fast-track and complete the review in two weeks,” Baldoz said. “The review means we keep the current minimum wage rate or make it higher, but definitely it cannot be lower.”

She said the Philippine government is unlikely to reduce the existing $400 minimum monthly wage rate of HSWs despite demands from foreign employers, particularly those from the Middle East, to make it lower.

A few weeks ago, the Saudi government stopped the Philippine government from undertaking the mandatory processing and verification of employment contracts of HSWs.

The suspension in effect stopped the deployment of HSWs to Saudi since the verification of employment contracts is part of the requirements in hiring Filipinos.

There were reports that the Saudi government issued the suspension order to protest the current minimum wage rate and age limit for HSWs hired abroad.

But Baldoz expressed doubt that the minimum wage rate was the reason behind the suspension order, considering that the POEA has been implementing the requirement since 2006.

However, she said the Saudi government is sending a delegation to the Philippines this month to discuss the suspension and other issues concerning the hiring of Filipino workers.

The POEA issued the HSWs reform package in 2006 as part of the government efforts to protect and prevent abuses committed against Filipinos employed abroad.

The implementation of the reform package resulted in a significant drop in hiring of Filipino household workers during its initial years of implementation.

POEA, however, recorded a continuing rise in the deployment of household service workers for the past years, prompting Baldoz to order a review of the hiring policy.

Because of this development, Sen. Loren Legarda urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to start the process of convening the Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) with the government of Saudi Arabia to discuss the issues of concern for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). –-Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) with Marvin Sy

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