POEA freezes deployment of new HSWs to Saudi Arabia


Thousands of newly hired Filipino household service workers (HSW) may have to wait until the end of the month, or until early next year at the most, before they could be deployed and be able to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

This developed as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) announced it is drafting a new set of guidelines on HSW deployment to the oil-rich kingdom.

POEA announced it is eyeing to come out with the protocols by December to plug the gaps in its blacklisting mechanism for erring foreign employers and recruitment agencies.

At a virtual news conference, POEA Administrator Bernard P. Olalia disclosed they are now gathering inputs from NGOs, recruitment agencies, and the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) in KSA to come out with the draft guidelines.

“We will try to complete it [guidelines] next month. But if we lack the time for this, it might take us until early next year,” Olalia said.

He noted their draft guidelines will compel foreign employers to include their definitive addresses, where their hired HSWs will be deployed and submit a government issued ID, which should contain their names and addresses.

The new protocols will be initially piloted in the KSA, and if successfully implemented, it will be cascaded in other Filipino HSW destination countries.

Plugging the gaps

Olalia said they came out with the new requirements since many erring employers are able to avoid being blacklisted from POEA by using just postal codes for their address and making slight alterations in their names.

He said this makes it difficult for POEA to keep track if a foreign employer has repeatedly abused the Filipino HSW he or she hires.

This, the POEA head said, was the case of a retired Saudi general, who was able to keep hiring Filipino HSWs despite previous complaints from several HSWs, by using a “pseudo employer.”

The case prompted the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to temporarily suspend the deployment of newly hired HSWs bound for KSA until the said gaps for HSWs deployment is enforced.

“Aside from the retired [Saudi] general we observed that even if we have blacklisted [employers], the number of welfare cases continue to increase,” Olalia said.

“We were able to take notice of these gaps again, which we are now trying to plug,” he added.

To note, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, POEA deployed over 200,000 HSWs per year. Most of these HSWs work in Middle East countries like KSA.

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