Foreign agencies to deposit $50,000 in escrow
KUWAIT CITY, June 4: The Philippine Charge d’Affaires to Kuwait Noordin Pendosina Lomondot announced on Monday the resumption of the deployment of Filipino domestic workers to Kuwait, after the Philippine Embassy received guidelines from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Lomondot who made the announcement at a press conference at the Philippine Embassy outlined that the guidelines were issued pursuant to the Agreement on Employment of Domestic Workers between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the State of Kuwait which was signed on May 11, 2018 and the Administrative Order No. 254-A Series of 2018 signed by Philippine Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III lifting the deployment ban for Kuwait bound domestic workers. “In view of this development and beginning today, June 4, 2018, our Labour Office or POLO will start accepting documents of domestic worker (Visa 20 workers) for processing,” stated Lomondot.
Joining him during the press briefing were Philippine Labour Attache Rustico Dela Fuente and Assistant Labour Attache Ma Teresa Olgado.
Dela Fuente explained to the media in brief the four-page POEA guidelines covering the Medical Fitness and Work-Readiness of Domestic Workers, Prohibitions of Unauthorized Fees, Access to Legal Assistance, Communication and Dispute Settlement Mechanisms, Access to other Employment Opportunities, Escrow Deposit, Documentation of Workers and Accreditation of Employers and Monitoring. “The previous requirements that we have were good but this time it is more on the enforcement that we will focus,” he stressed.
Among the new requirements is the employer’s proof of capacity to pay the salary of the domestic workers. “We will be meeting with the recruitment agencies in a day or two to discuss this on what kind of proof that they will be requiring to ensure that employers have the capacity to pay their domestic worker,” explained Dela Fuente.
Another new requirement is the Escrow Deposit where in Foreign Placement Agencies (FPA) hiring Filipino domestic workers as condition for their accreditation or renewal of their accreditation shall put up an escrow account amounting to $50,000 and Philippine Recruitment Agencies (PRAs) are obliged to inform their FPAs on the procedures for putting up an escrow deposit account.
Dela Fuente added that as stated in the Memorandum of Agreement on the Protection of Filipino Domestic Workers signed by Kuwait and the Philippines, domestic workers shall have free access to legal assistance; the employer shall allow the domestic worker to possess and use a mobile phone or other communication devices to communicate with the worker’s family and authorities; the employer shall not retain any of the domestic workers’ personal documents such as, but not limited to, their passports.
With regard to the once a week day off for domestic workers, Dela Fuente assured that this will be implemented and this is one of the agenda when the joint committee meets in July. “The joint committee composed of representatives from the government of the Philippines and Kuwait is set to meet on the first week of July and among the agenda will be the establishment of a Day-off Centre or Plaza, various monitoring platforms and enhancement program for the employerdomestic worker relations,” he stated.
He outlined that the POLO will implement strictly the monitoring of domestic workers. As stated in the POEA Guidelines, the PRAs shall submit the POEA Welfare and Employment Office (WEO) quarterly report of their regular monitoring of deployed domestic workers with their foreign counterpart regarding the domestic worker’s condition in the direct employer’s household. “We are happy that foreign recruitment agencies as well as representatives of PRAs have expressed their commitment to the implementation of all these guidelines. We have seen what happened in the past and we cannot go back to the old ways. We have to move forward to better protect our domestic workers,” stated Dela Fuente. In line with this, Lomondot also urged all the stakeholders for their renewed cooperation.
“We should learn our lessons from the past. We all need all your help especially the foreign recruitment agencies. Your success is also our success so let’s help one another,” concluded Lomondot.
Meanwhile, Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said on Monday Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s apology to the State of Kuwait over “harsh words” against it as a positive sign of his eagerness to surmount the crisis. “This apology is a positive indication of the willingness of the Philippines president and friends in the Philippines to overcome this crisis and to focus on mutual interests between both countries and peoples instead,” Al- Jarallah said in reply to a question by KUNA in this regard.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff and Agencies