Saudi officials to discuss new rules on hiring of OFWs

Published by rudy Date posted on April 25, 2011

MANILA, Philippines –  A delegation of Saudi officials is arriving today to discuss with the Philippine government the suspension on the processing and deployment of Filipino household service workers (HSWs).

Labor Undersecretary Danilo Cruz said the Philippine government has convened the expanded Technical Working Group (TWG) and the Saudi delegation will be joining the meeting.

“Among others, we expect them to discuss the Saudi government’s previous decision to stop the Philippine government from mandatory verification of employment contracts for Filipino HSWs,” Cruz said.

He expressed hope that the meeting between the two countries would lead to a solution on the issue that resulted to stoppage in the processing and deployment of HSWs to the Kingdom.

Earlier, the Saudi government suspended the mandatory processing and verification of employment contracts between Arab employers and Filipinos HSWs without citing any reason for the decision.

Saudi employers, however, have reportedly long been opposed to some of the Philippine government’s strict requirements on hiring of HSWs, including minimum monthly salary of $400 and minimum age of 23 years.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz expressed doubt that the Philippine policy on hiring of HSWs triggered the suspension since the requirement has been in effect since 2006.

Nevertheless, Baldoz said the Philippine government has opted to review the existing policy hoping that it would be able to present new guidelines on the hiring of HSWs to the Saudi officials.

She said she directed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to fast-track the review and come out with new guidelines in time with the Saudi officials visit.

Meanwhile, the local recruitment industry yesterday called for reform in the government’s HSWs hiring policy, which they claimed has been ineffective and discouraged deployment of Filipino workers abroad.

Recruitment leader Lito Soriano said the policy was “unrealistic” and generally unacceptable for employers in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries.

“Most of the time, the training required under the policy of these workers was not properly implemented. It is only a profit-oriented goal of the center to produce large volume of HSWs trained workers so that there is no competent evaluation on the worker. Just like a diploma mill, these centers spew out poorly trained HSWs,” Soriano pointed out.

He said cases of repatriation of HSWs was very high because many of those who were deployed were not mature enough to undertake domestic duties as many of them were new graduates unfamiliar with household work.

“The poor training modules of accredited training centers and the lack of a genuine assessment for these domestic workers bound for work abroad are not helping the deployment of HSWs to the Middle East and Southeast Asian markets,” he added.

Soriano urged the government to give back the training of domestic workers to the concerned recruitment agencies, which have been in the business for a long time and are more familiar with the needs of employers. –Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star)

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