KUWAIT CITY, March 14: The Philippine Embassy denied reports that came out on local Arabic dailies on Sunday that the embassy has banned expatriates from hiring Filipino household service workers (HSWs) which was viewed by many as a form of discrimination. “We did not issue such policy or announcement banning expatriates from hiring Filipino household service workers. We don’t follow discrimination policy because we are also expatriates in this country,” clarified Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro O Villa, who along with Philippine Labour Attache Atty Cesar Chavez Jr explained to the Arab Times on Monday some new regulations to be implemented by the embassy effective April 1 concerning the bringing of Filipino HSWs out of Kuwait to prevent traffi cking of its nationals. The Ambassador outlined that a number of Filipino workers have been brought by their employers out of Kuwait without the knowledge of the embassy.
“Our Philippine Overseas Labour Offi ce (POLO) will be implementing some regulations by next month to restrict the traffi cking of our workers,” stressed Villa who was quick to add that no ban for expatriates to hire Filipino HSWs has been issued. Chavez reiterated the Ambassador’s statement on the false news that came out on some Arabic dailies, saying that no such regulation has been issued by the POLO.
“The policy of the embassy is the same, we don’t discriminate employers of our workers. What we are doing right now is just to implement strictly, policies and regulations and strengthen the contract between the employer and worker. These policies and systems are designed not only to protect the worker but also the employer,” assured Chavez.
He explained that they want to ensure that employers are capable of paying the right compensation to the workers. “Right now, our benchmark is the combined income of the family should not be less than KD1,000 especially for non-Kuwaitis if they want to hire Filipino HSWs. We are not actually restricting the rights of employers to hire domestic workers but we’re documenting and protecting not only the rights of the workers but also the employers,” he stressed.
Chavez disclosed that starting April 1, they will be releasing templates of the document in the form of undertaking. It is a one-page document in the form of undertaking that whenever employers bring the worker out of Kuwait, they have to come to the embassy to submit the affidavit of consent from the worker, if the worker would like to accompany the employer and a letter request of the employer to the embassy, requesting for permission and an amendment of the work contract if necessary.
“Actually this is mutually benefi – cial not only to the workers but also to the employers and the government of Kuwait and the government of the Republic of the Philippines. On one hand, the workers are protected from being brought outside of Kuwait which is considered as traffi cking. With this system, they will be protected in terms of their compensation outside of Kuwait or any country where they will be brought by their employer. For example, if they will be brought to London or the US, the compensation there will be considered in drafting of the amended contract because the salary of HSWs there is different from the salary here in Kuwait,” pointed out Chavez.
Currently, the monthly salary of a Filipino HSW based on the Standard Employment Contract duly approved by the Kuwait and the Philippines is US$400 and this may vary when a Filipino HSW is taken by an employer to another country that follows a different standard salary based on the country’s labour law. Chavez added that if the worker runs away overseas, the employer has the protection of the Philippine government because it is already in the system that the workers have been brought there legally under the embassy’s new policy. “They can be traced. The Embassy of the Philippines in that post can help them also to locate where the employees are,” he stated. With the implementation of this new regulation, the employer and the worker should come to the embassy before they travel.
“Actually, there has been an informal arrangement with the Immigration authorities. The contract which was also approved by the Kuwait government says the place of work is Kuwait and they can’t bring workers out of Kuwait, hence, they have to get the approval of the worker and the approval of the Philippine and the Kuwait government. That’s why immigration officials at the airport are now requesting from the employers, documents from the Philippine Embassy if Filipino workers travel with them,” cited Chavez. Meanwhile, the Ambassador also disclosed that the Philippine Embassy will issue a note to all embassies in Kuwait regarding the implementation of this new regulation to alert them whenever an employer applies for a visa for his Filipino worker to travel overseas.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff