Dubai: The Philippines Government has increased the minimum age requirement or domestic workers going abroad, including the UAE, to 24.
A memorandum issued by the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) in Dubai says the Filipino household service worker (HSW) should be at least 24 years old, up from the previous minimum age of 23. The amendment took effect from July 14, Philippine Labour Attaché John Rio Bautista confirmed to Gulf News.
Bautista said: “The increase in the age requirement is pursuant to the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law and the advisory issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration [POEA] in compliance with the law.”
POEA is the government agency in charge of overseeing and regulating commercial recruitment firms in the Philippines and is also responsible for safeguarding the rights and welfare of Filipino workers abroad.
Nancy Tiburcio, 39, who has been working as a nanny in Dubai for almost a decade, welcomed the move. “Young domestic workers are more vulnerable to abuse. But aside from increasing the age requirement, I hope to see stricter monitoring and stronger implementation of laws protecting us [domestic workers]. The memorandum is clear on the minimum age requirement but there is no stipulation on what will happen to employers who hire under-age domestic workers.”
Migration expert Froilan Malit, Jr., a PhD Politics Candidate at University of Glasgow and managing director of Rights Corridor, said: “Raising the minimum age of deployment for migrant domestic workers from 23 to 24 years old is an incremental but a proactive step in the global fight against transnational trafficking of migrant domestic workers.”
The rights and welfare of Filipino domestic workers are protected under Memorandum of Understanding on Labour Cooperation with Annex Protocol on Domestic Workers signed between the UAE and Philippines in 2021.
Provisions of UAE-Philippines agreement on domestic workers
1. The right of the domestic worker to take at least eight continuous hours of sleep every night;
2. The right of the domestic worker to take a break that is paid, outside the residence of the employer, at least one full day every week;
3. The right of the domestic worker to keep his/her passport or identification documents and the employer is not allowed to hold them;
4. The employer shall allow the domestic worker to have and use cellular phones and other communication devices and the employer is prohibited from confiscating them;
5. Opening of bank account under the name of the domestic worker for payment of salary; and
6. Allowing the domestic workers to cook her or his own food.