Manila: The Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) has issued new rules concerning the direct hiring of overseas Filipino workers, in a bid to strengthen mechanisms for protecting such indentured labour.
"Pursuant to the labour code of the Philippines, as amended... the following guidelines are hereby issued to govern the direct hiring of Filipino workers for direct overseas employment," said memorandum circular No 4 series of 2007 which was signed by POEA Administrator Roselinda Baldoz last December 18.
According to the guidelines, "direct hiring may be allowed only for members of the diplomatic corps and members of international organisations, government officials of ministerial level, employers residing in countries where foreign placement agencies do not operate, as well as Filipino expatriates who have the capacity to hire Filipino workers".
Foreign employers could engage in direct hiring "only upon approval by the Secretary of Labour and Employment".
The guideline also allows direct hiring by "institutional employers" who are hiring on a one-time basis as well as companies that need workers immediately and have submitted an undertaking to tie up with a licensed Philippine recruitment agency.
"Employers wishing to directly hire Filipino workers shall be pre-qualified by the Philippine Overseas Labour Office and the POEA under the following criteria:
No derogatory track record on the job site and in the Philippines, no involvement of an intermediary in the recruitment process whether in the Philippines or at the job site.
According to Labour Secretary Arturo Brion, who is the POEA Board Chairman, the "stricter" policy concerning direct hiring will cover employment contracts and work visas issued after January 15, 2008.
Likewise, firms planning to hire overseas Filipino workers will have to comply with stricter documentation and processing requirements. These include posting a $5,000 (Dh18,350) bond for each employee recruited.
The bond will be used in case the recruited worker needs to be repatriated before his or her contract expires or in the event the worker dies. Aside from this, a performance bond equivalent to the worker's three months' salary will be required.