A migrant group over the weekend expressed its objection against the new Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) order on mandatory insurance for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“The new POEA order on mandatory insurance is just another money-making scheme for the already burdened OFWs that can very well even cost us our job,” said Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK).
As per the POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 04, , all returning OFWs with the same employer, or have moved to another, must register with POEA, they must provide a passport valid for at least 6 months, a valid working visa, and a certificate of insurance coverage similar to that required of those leaving for their first job abroad.
“Mandatory insurance is just another state exaction by the Duterte government from us who are already burdened by the soaring prices of goods in the Philippines and the rapid weakening of the peso. Employers in Hong Kong are already required by law to get insurance for their domestic workers. If they don’t get one, and something happens to their worker, employers will be liable and must make sure that they will be responsible for the expenses. The new mandatory insurance order will just add to the list of expenses that employers are made to pay for and will merely increase friction between the employer and worker,” Balladares-Pelaez explained.
In the guidelines, it said all returning OFWs who are household service workers with new or renewed contract are required to pay an insurance that will cost US$144 or P7,800, before being allowed to return to their work sites.
The group said although the resolution says that the employer must pay, in reality, it is the workers who will be paying the insurance to prevent arguments with their employer.
“There is no mechanism to ensure that the employer will pay for it. This new fee might even lead to domestic workers losing their jobs because of tension with their employers. We already take home so little of our pay, yet you want to take away the equivalent of almost 30 percent of a month’s salary for this superfluous fee?” Balladares-Pelaez remarked.
The mandatory insurance came out in time for the coming midterm elections, which is a few months from now. According to Balladares-Pelaez: “We cannot help but think that this collection is one way to accumulate more money for the elections.”