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Philippines – Recruiters face penalties for violating laws

16 October 2012

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) last week said that recruitment agencies violating overnment rules on the recruitment and deployment of Filipino household service workers (HSWs) will face penalties.

This can include the suspension and cancellation of licenses, depending on the gravity and frequency of the offenses. The Department of Labor and Employment Secretary, Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, has given clear instructions that recruiters must observe the HSW reform package issued in 2006.

Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac said these reforms set out a number of parameters, including age restrictions which have been raised from 18 to 23. The minimum entry salary has been increased from US$ 200 to US$ 400 per month while also prohibiting any forms placement fees.

The reforms set a higher standard on qualifications HSWs will have to bring with them while foreign placement agencies and foreign employers also have to abide by stricter “prequalification” standards.

Mr Cacdac said that placing underage workers and charging placement fees from HSW are “serious” offenses which could lead to recruiters having their licence cancelled.

The POEA said that “less serious” offenses committed by recruiters have included forging travel documents and placing workers with employers which are not accredited by the POEA. Some agencies have also withheld pay without “justifiable reasons.”

Such “less serious” offenses could be penalised with up to 12 months suspensions and ultimately with the cancellation of a license for repeated offenses.

The administrator said foreign employers breaking laws and regulations could also face sanctions under POEA rules, and could be forced out of the overseas employment programme.

This follows an increasing number of Filipino HSWs who have filed cases against their recruiters and employers. Mr Cacdac reminded recruitment agencies that they will be held accountable for recruitment violations, incidents of abuses, exploitation, or breaches of contract against domestic workers. 

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