The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has issued interim guidelines on the recruitment, deployment, and employment of land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to ensure their protection amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The POEA issued Memorandum Circular no. 1 series of 2021 stating the responsibilities of the OFWs, licensed Philippine recruitment agencies, and their principal or employers on the overseas employment of the worker “which must be in compliance with all the health and safety protocols” of the Philippine government and country of destination.
“As such, licensed Philippine recruitment agencies and their principals must ensure the completeness of the necessary documents and clearances of their workers, such as their verified employment contract, valid medical clearance for COVID-19, and their declaration of understanding the risks of working abroad amid the pandemic,” the POEA said.
The POEA said recruitment agencies “must coordinate with the concerned government agencies and local government units (LGUs) to ease the deployment of their processed OFWs” as well as provide free COVID-19 testing to its workers prior to their deployment.
It added that it is also the responsibility of the recruitment agencies to “guarantee the overall welfare, safety, and benefits” of their processed OFWs both in the workplace and accommodation of the workers.
“Likewise, the recruitment agencies must coordinate with relevant health facilities in case of medical assistance and treatment of OFWs who may test positive for COVID-19,” POEA added.
OFWs are required to undergo mandatory quarantine upon arrival at their jobsite in accordance with the health protocols of their county of destination.
“All the costs of quarantine of the workers must be shouldered by the recruitment agencies, including their accommodation, food, and COVID-19 testing,” the POEA said.
OFWs will not be paid their salary while on quarantine unless they were “required by the employer or mandated by the government” of the host country to work during quarantine.
“The employer of the OFWs, except for domestic workers, may implement alternative work arrangements to further ensure the safety and tenure of workers and avoid any job displacement,” it said.
POEA said the interim guidelines will be implemented until September, 2021, as declared under Presidential Proclamation No. 1021, Series of 2020, and will take effect 15 days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation and filing with the National Administrative Register.