Monday, January 3, 2011

Demand for OFWs still high despite insurance expense, POEA insists

MANILA, Philippines - A month after the implementation of the mandatory insurance for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said the deployment of workers overseas is still increasing, contrary to earlier fears that the measure would dampen demand for OFWs.
In an interview, POEA deputy administrator Stella Banawis said that on the first week of the implementation, recruitment agencies and the POEA experienced 46% to 52% decrease in deployment rate.
However, during the second week and the succeeding weeks, the figures went up by 54% and continuously increased by 152% on the third week.
“It’s going back to the normal processing volume that we have prior to the implementation of the mandatory insurance. That means recruitment agencies are complying in terms of processing of their workers,” Banawis told reporters on Wednesday.
The figures also proved that there is no proof that employers backed out in hiring Filipino workers due to the mandatory insurance, she said.
“The employers, at this time of the year, need workers. They cannot afford not to process the workers [documents],” she said, partly in Filipino.
The law requires recruiters and employers to pay a premium insurance of $75 for each land-based Filipino workers and $100 for sea-based workers.
The insurance covers the departing OFWs with a minimum of
  • $15,000 for accidental death
  • $10,000 for natural death
  • $7,500 for permanent total disablement
  • $100 subsistence allowance each month for a maximum of 6 months for a migrant worker who is involved in litigation proceedings in the receiving country
  • at least 3 months’ salary for every year of the migrant worker’s contract for money claims arising from the employer’s liability
  • free transportation cost for the compassionate visit of a member of the family or requested individual when a migrant worker is hospitalized or confined for 7 consecutive days or more
  • medical evacuation
  • medical repatriation
“The [insurance] premium should not be passed on to the worker. The POEA is monitoring whether the premium is being paid by the recruitment agency through the service fee they charge from the employers or passed on to workers,” Banawis said.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Labor office has no choice but to follow the mandated insurance.
Earlier, some recruitment agencies have proposed the deferment of implementation or amendment of the insurance law.
“The law has an impact in [employment] contract processing but we have no choice but to implement it,” Baldoz said partly in Filipino.
Based on POEA data, domestic help still represents the most in-demand worker classification in Middle East, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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