Friday, March 06, 2015

Be careful when you work overseas

There are about 100 million Filipinos and about 10 million live and work overseas. Why do many Filipinos go out to work? Jobs are lacking, and wages are low. In light of this employment problem, our government has created institutions to protect overseas Filipino workers.

The first line of defense is the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). This agency regulates placement and recruitment agencies, sets the standards for overseas employment, and helps protect the rights of overseas Filipino workers. Recently POEA made a memorandum circular saying that recruitment agencies must be on Facebook to communicate more easily with household service workers (HSW).

The second line of help is the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). This is a fund from all fees paid by OFWs to help protect migrant workers in the foreign countries where they reside. In years past, OWWA got into trouble because the funds that should have helped the OFWs were used for corruption.

The third line of protection is the consular and diplomatic missions of the Philippines in foreign countries. These are the people who are mandated to help fellow Filipinos in their times of need. Diplomats, consuls, labor attaches, and their staff visit the imprisoned, rescue the abused, and protect the rights of their fellow citizens. 

While there is a great deal of protection for overseas Filipino workers, they should also do their best to protect themselves and be good residents of the foreign country where they work.

1. Make sure that the recruitment and placement agency has an authorization or license. The address in the authorization should be the same address of the office. Moreover, see to it that the overseas job that you are applying for has a job order. If there is no job order, the work may not be allowed.

2. Do not use fake documents. Apply for a passport and visa the right way. While you can use a travel agency to get your passport and visa, you still have to interview with the consul. Do not use fixers.

3. Read and understand your overseas employment contracts. If you do not understand something, ask and the employer must explain the contract to you. Contracts of adhesion where you either take it or leave it are strictly construed against the party who made the contract, in this case, the employer.

4. Bring enough money and provisions. If you are going to work abroad, you better have some money or cash at hand. You will need money to buy food, clothing,shelter, and transportation.

5. Never give up your passport. Your Philippine passport is the property of the Philippine state and establishes your identity, especially in a foreign country. So remember to keep the passport with you at all times. Some employers even take away the worker's passport. With employers like these, who needs enemies?

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