By Erma Edera and Analou De Vera
The governments of the Philippines and Japan on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC), providing better protection for Filipino workers to be hired under a new specified skills residency in Japan.
The labor cooperation pact, signed in Tokyo by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Japanese Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita, aims to strengthen the cooperation of both countries in eliminating malicious intermediary organizations known as illegal recruiters for the smooth facilitation of sending and accepting workers from Philippines.
“Ensuring the welfare and security of our Filipino skilled workers is among the priorities of the government and this agreement is geared towards a more secure process of recruitment and deployment of specified skilled workers in Japan,” Bello said.
Bello has estimated that Filipino workers would corner at least 30 percent of the 350,000 available jobs Japan is opening to foreign workers effective April 11.
The pact seeks to establish a basic partnership framework for the “proper operation of the system pertaining to foreign human resources” with the status of residence of “specified skilled worker” who possess certain expertise and skills in certain job categories.
Among the specified skills are those in health care, building maintenance, food services, industrial machinery, electronics, food manufacturing, agriculture, hospitality, construction, shipbuilding, fisheries and aquaculture, parts and tooling, and aviation.
Under the agreement, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) will serve as the country’s contact points in the processing and accreditation while the verification of skilled workers’ documents, coordination onsite and welfare concerns are under the supervision of Philippine Labor Overseas Labor Office (POLO) – Japan.
Requirements to be hired as a specified skilled worker in Japan includes passing the skill level tests and Japanese proficiency, which will be administered by the Japan Foundation in the Philippines.
Those who will be hired as specified skilled workers may stay in Japan for a maximum of five years under the Specified Skills No. 1 visa status, with the possibility of receiving a status of Specified Skills No. 2 if the worker obtains a higher level of specialization.
As of June, 2018, there were around 280,000 Filipinos residing and working in Japan, of which 34,003 were professional and highly skilled workers.
Bello released the guidelines contained in Department Order No. 201 Series of 2019 last March 22, pursuant to the MOC. The qualifications for Specified Skilled Worker who is allowed to work in Japan for a maximum of five years are as follows: 1) The applicant must be at least 18 years old; 2) It must be proven through an examination or other evaluation method that the applicant possesses skills requiring considerable knowledge or experience necessary for the work which the applicant intends to engage in; 3) It must be proven through an examination or other evaluation method that the applicant possesses the Japanese language proficiency necessary for living in Japan as well as the language proficiency necessary for the work which the applicants intends to engage in; 4) The applicant must possess a passport valid for at least six months prior to the intended date of departure.
The labor department noted that “no fee of any kind or form shall be collected, directly or indirectly, from the specified skilled worker for their selection and deployment to Japan.”
There will be no deductions to be made on the worker’s allowances/wages for any purpose except for host country’s prescribed allowable deductions such as tax.