News Release
Department of Labor and Employment
November 11, 2021

Fewer cases of OFW abuse with ethical recruitment action plan – Bello

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Thursday said he foresees a steady decrease in welfare cases involving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the country adopts an action plan to ensure fair and ethical recruitment of workers.

“The action plan is being adopted at a time when our traditional labor markets are poised to open their doors to Filipino workers after the hiatus caused by COVID-19,” Bello said of the first-ever National Action Plan to Mainstream Fair and Ethical Recruitment of OFWs (NAP-FER), launched in collaboration with multi-stakeholders in overseas employment as well as IOM Philippines and the Blas F. Ople Policy Center with support from the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS).

This week, South Korea notified the labor department that its doors are now open to Filipino workers under the EPS system while Taiwan has signified its interest in hiring factory workers from the Philippines. Health care workers remain in high demand and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) also sees the start of a slow recovery for the land-based deployment of OFWs in 2022.

Under the plan, land-based recruitment agencies that strictly abide by a Code of Ethics that would include ensuring decent employment, no unjustified fees, and contract violations, and strict monitoring of its workers would be entitled to incentives that would be the subject of tripartite consultations.

The Plan was developed through several consultative meetings with multi-stakeholders. Bello has tasked the POEA to sit down with representatives of the Philippine recruitment industry, civil society groups, OFW organizations, and labor as well as welfare attaches of the labor department to develop the operational aspects of the action plan.

Aside from an incentive program, the plan also calls for capacity-building for Philippine recruitment agencies and their foreign counterparts with technical support coming from the International Organization on Migration Philippines. It also aims to provide digital solutions to monitor welfare cases to ensure prompt action by private recruitment firms and government agencies.

Another major facet of the National Action Plan is the formulation of a Code of Ethical Standards for overseas labor recruitment to be developed by private recruitment agencies themselves along with government, civil service organizations, and workers organizations. The Code of Ethical Standards will hopefully get adopted as an industry-wide standard in the overseas employment sector.

The NAP-FER also seeks to improve on existing mechanisms for reporting, monitoring, and redress of migrant workers’ grievances as well as providing OFWs better access to these.

Bello said, “with the National Action Plan we commit to sustain and redouble our efforts to enhance the protection of our fellow Filipinos working abroad by making Ethical Recruitment a cornerstone of our policy initiatives and strategies in the years to come.”

IOM Philippines Chief of Mission Kristin Dadey commended the Philippine government for staying on track in its commitment to promote ethical recruitment as part of the 23 objectives of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.

“Once again, the Philippines is leading the way in showing how the Global Compact for Migration can be used to protect our migrant workers. We appreciate the hard work that went into the drafting of this national action plan and the high level of cooperation extended by our partners in the recruitment industry as well as among civil society groups such as the Blas F. Ople Policy Center,” Dadey said.

OFW advocate Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said the implementation of the national action plan will improve the relationship between the recruitment agency and its workers because both will be looking at a common set of values. “It is the easiest thing to say that one is ethical, but actions speak loudest when everyone else around you concur with that statement. In mainstreaming ethical recruitment, we hope to define that lofty phrase and break it down into operational, evidence-based realities.” ###


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