Manpower agencies and employers who violate the Household Service Workers Policy Reform Package will face penalties, visiting Philippine Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz warned yesterday.
“This (reform package) is for all. If there’s violation, we impose the necessary penalties for the employers and the placement agencies,” Baldoz said, adding that more employers and agencies were now complying with the policy.
The policy, promulgated six years ago, is aimed at professionalising domestic work and minimising the vulnerabilities of Filipina housemaids. One of its salient features is the $400 minimum wage, which was opposed by many employers here.
Other important aspects of the policy include raising the minimum age for Filipina housemaids from 21 to 23 years, upgrading their skills through training and requiring the employer to shoulder the cost of deploying the housemaid.
Baldoz, however, said the focus was not just on penalising erring agencies and employers but also on rewarding well-performing ones.
“I am discussing with the Labour Attache the possibility to initiate a POLO award if they have a record or profile of a good agency and a good employer… making it less difficult for them to do business here in the Polo because they are excellent in doing their business as legitimate foreign recruitment agency and good employers. They should be rewarded. But for those who will continue to violate, definitely we have to penalise.”
She urged victims of “contract substitution” — a rampant practice among agencies and employers in which an employee is given a lower salary when he arrives in the country — to file a complaint with POLO.
“We need these people to come out in the open and file the necessary complaints so that we can investigate. If there is a finding that there is indeed contract substitution, POLO here is able, through the Labour Attache, to suspend the documentary processing of the foreign placement agencies involved and he can transmit the report to Philippine Overseas Employment Administrator Hans Cacdac, who can also impose the necessary administrative penalties on the agencies.”
Baldoz will be meeting her Qatari counterpart today and, if given the chance, she said, she would discuss specific issues of OFWs here, such as non-compliance with the reform package with regard to salaries, withholding of passports and cases of workers running away due to employer abuse.
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