THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday announced the possibility of partially lifting the total ban imposed on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he will push for the relaxation of the deployment ban now that the Kuwaiti government has agreed to sign an agreement on the standard employment contract for Filipino household service workers (HSWs).
The agreement, he said, was arrived during the weekend meeting between officials of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and representatives of the Kuwaiti government.
“Both sides agreed on the harmonized standard employment contract. I will talk with the POEA governing board to recommend the partial lifting of the ban,” Bello said.
Upon the issuance of the partial lifting of the ban, the labor chief said they will likely allow skilled, semi-skilled, and professional workers to already be deployed to Kuwait.
On the other hand, he said HSWs will continue to be covered by the deployment ban.
“It will be decided by the POEA board. It is a collective decision,” he added.
Bello said the recommendation is in response to the Kuwaiti government acceding to the demands of the Philippines regarding the employment contract template for HSWs.
The salient provisions of the standard employment contract include prohibition for employers to keep any of the worker’s personal identity documents such as passport, and the entitlement of a worker to own a phone and use it outside working hours provided that she keeps the secrets and privacy of the household, and use such phone in a manner consistent with public morals.
The OFWs will also be entitled to a paid full day per week break and must not work for more than 12 hours a day. The worker should be allowed to have no less than an hour break after five consecutive hours of work, and the right to at least eight hours of night rest.
Employers are also prohibited to assign a domestic worker to work outside of the Kuwait or be transferred to another employer without the OFW’s written consent. If this occurs without the agreement of the worker, the employee will be returned to the Philippines at the expense of the employer.
The employer should ensure the OFWs’ adequate life and is obliged to provide the medical treatment and nursing by registering her in the health system applicable in Kuwait.
“All of the provisions that President Rodrigo Duterte requested were all granted. The harmonized employment contract should be retroactive and effective immediately,” Bello said.
Bello said the total lifting of the deployment ban will only follow if justice is already given to slain worker Jeanelyn Villavende.
“I have to be satisfied that Jeanelyn will really be given justice,” said Bello.
In early January, the DOLE imposed a total deployment ban to Kuwait on the heels of the killing of Villavende as well as the subsequent attempt of the host country to cover-up the true cause of her death.