DMW bares new rules, 'mortal sins' on hiring of OFWs

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) released on Friday, June 9, a list of new rules and regulations on the recruitment and employment of land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) which also revealed the “mortal” or “cardinal sins” that should be avoided by recruitment agencies.

(Photo courtesy of Department of Migrant Workers)

DMW Secretary Susan Ople said the list contains significant provisions that are intended to protect the rights and promote the welfare of OFWs, as well as the 20 mortal sins that may lead to the cancellation of a recruitment agency’s license.

“We aim for a rights-based approach and ease of doing business mindset to labor migration and migration governance. This new set of rights-based rules will ensure better protection and empowerment of our OFWs. Likewise, it will enable the industry to succeed and flourish,” Ople stressed.

Ople said included in the list are acts of graft and corruption including attempts to bribe DMW officials and personnel as well as the recruitment and deployment of minors and underaged workers.

The new rules also require licensed recruitment agencies to employ a full-time and trained Welfare Desk Officer (WEDO). The WEDO will monitor and assist in the resolution of workers’ problems and complaints in their job site. 

For the first time, Ople said the rules on OFW recruitment also seek to regulate the accommodations of recruitment agencies for its workers.

"This is significant because there was no way for the government to know where these accommodations are and how conducive its facilities are for our workers. Under the new rules, they would have to inform us about the location and capacity of these accommodations," the DMW chief explained.

Moreover, the rules impose a simplified and standardized penalty structure for private recruitment agencies for offenses such as involvement in corruption activity, and any conduct of illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons. 

For serious offenses, Ople said the recruitment agency faces cancellation of its license, while less serious offenses will result in suspension of six months to one year. Agencies with light offenses, meanwhile, will face suspensions of one to six months. 

The new DMW rules also extended the validity period of provisional licenses from two years to three years, while the validity of a regular license has been extended to six years from the previous four-year period. 

The escrow deposit of recruitment agencies has also been increased from P1 million to P1.5 million to expand their capability to cover claims of OFWs over employment contract violations. One Person Corporations (OPC) are now allowed to engage in overseas recruitment and employment.

The DMW has also shortened its process-cycle time from 15 days to seven to 10 days on onsite accreditation and verification in its Migrant Workers Offices (MWO) overseas.

"Dahil mas simple ang rules, mas malinaw din ang dapat gawin at sundin ng bawat licensed recruitment agency. Hindi na kailangang humanap ng padrino sa loob o labas ng department (Because the rules are much simpler, it is also clearer what licensed recruitment agencies should do and obey),” Ople said.