The legal recruitment of Filipino household service workers (HSWs) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is expected to resume before the end of the month, Presidential Adviser on OFWs Secretary Abdullah Mama-o said in a statement on Monday.
Mama-o made this announcement shortly after returning from a trip to Dubai upon the invitation of the UAE government where he discussed the resumption of HSWs’ hiring following a ‘de facto’ ban issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in 2014 due to some unresolved issues on the Filipino workers’ contracts. Last week, representatives from the Philippines and UAE conducted the 3rd Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) in Manila where the parties agreed, among others, to resume the processing of HSW contracts by the end of March 2021.
The JCM was preceded by the October 2020 between Mama-o and UAE Minister Nasser Thani Al-Hamli of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) in Dubai.
Mama-o explained that the JCM focused on the already signed but still unimplemented “PH-UAE MOU on Labor Cooperation with Protocol on the Employment of Filipinos as Domestic Workers in UAE”, which was signed by the labor ministers of both countries on September 17, 2017 in Abu Dhabi.
According to Mama-o, the MOU promised bilateral collaboration in major areas involving joint administration of the contract employment cycle to include use of information technology and data exchange; strengthening of regulations to combat trafficking of persons; and firmer regulation of recruitment agencies to enforce fair and transparent recruitment practices.
He further explained that the Protocol on Domestic Workers highlights recruitment and admission into UAE of HSWs pursuant to the protective provisions of the laws and regulations of both countries. Under this Protocol, the new Standard Employment Contract would guarantee the following rights to the domestic workers: treatment of the worker that preserves personal dignity and personal safety; (b) due payment and non-holding of wages; (c) twelve hours of daily rest; (d) one full day of weekly rest; (e) decent accommodation; (f) medical treatment; (g) retention of identity documents; (h) non-payment of costs and fees on recruitment and deployment; and (i) non-payment of costs for repatriation.
However, Mama-o noted that both documents were not immediately implemented for the last three years due to the impasse between the two countries on operationalizing the Protocol.
It was learned that the impasse occured after the Philippines asserted that the unified contract be harmonized with the country’s legal requirements while the UAE rejected the amendments as they do not want to appear they are favoring Filipino workers over other foreign laborers. The UAE side asserted that what the Philippines wants are already provided for in their laws.
Also during the JCM held last March 1-2, Mama-o disclosed that both sides have agreed to have an addendum to the UAE contract format containing the Philippine requirement for additional safety and welfare protections for HSWs to be signed by the employee, employer, the Philippine recruitment agency, and the UAE government-owned foreign recruitment agency, TADBEER.