DOLE lifts suspension on OFWs’ deployment to KSA

    Having received reports that departing Filipino workers are required to shoulder the costs of health and safety protocols for the coronavirus, including insurance coverage premium as they enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Department of Labor and Employment immediately issued a memorandum circular that banned their deployment.
    The circular cites a previous understanding with foreign employers, foreign recruitment agencies, principals that they are the ones responsible to provide said health requirements. The temporary suspension, although lifted, has caused “inconvenience and momentary anguish” among the almost 500 Filipino workers who were stranded at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

    MANILA — The temporary suspension issued by the Department of Labor and Employment earlier has been lifted after foreign employers assured Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III that they will shoulder the costs of COVID-19 protocols of Filipino workers, including tests and quarantine.

    The Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration was immediately directed to provide the needed clearance for Filipino workers heading to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    Bello apologized for the “inconvenience and momentary anguish” the suspension has caused to Filipino workers who were stranded at the NAIA. It had caused “confusion and irritation,” but he stood by his decision.

    Bello said, “It was in the best interest of our OFWs that such a decision had to be made.”

    The suspension issued earlier cited reports that Filipino workers are required to shoulder costs of health and safety protocols for coronavirus, among others.

    “The department received reports that departing OFWs are being required by their employers/foreign recruitment agencies to shoulder the costs of the health and safety protocols for COVID-19 and insurance coverage premium upon their entry in the kingdom,” including the stay at the institutional quarantine facility upon arrival in KSA and COVID-19 test.

    Labor Secretary Bello ordered POEA administrator Bernard Olalia to “effect” the temporary ban “immediately until further notice.”

    “All OFWs bound for KSA should not pay for their stay at institutional quarantine and for their COVID-19 test,” Olalia explained

    The Labor Department reiterates under POEA Memorandum Circular 1-2021, the licensed Philippine recruitment agencies and/or principals/employers of the OFWs should be responsible for the cost of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

    According to the memorandum circular, they should be the ones to provide the appropriate free COVID-19 testing to the OFWs, as required by the employer and the country of destination.

    The DOLE order affected 283 OFW passengers for Riyadh and 120 for Dammam, all scheduled to fly to KSA yesterday. (LO/The MiNT)

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