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OEC suspension not likely to be extended, Labatt says

03 December 2017

The SUN
Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre says the suspension of the issuance of the overseas employment certificates to first-time overseas Filipino workers, which effectively resulted in a deployment ban, is not likely to be extended beyond the Dec. 1 deadline.

“Ang daming nagreklamo, so malamang hindi na ma-extend,” said Labatt dela Torre.

An estimated 75,000 new OFWs were affected by the 15-day OEC suspension, with about 750 of them bound for Hong Kong.
Applicants for OEC exemption queuing up on the Admiralty Centre footbridge are starting to grow in number as OFWs look to going home during the the Christmas and New Year holidays

Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III imposed the OEC suspension on Nov. 17, saying it was meant to crack down on a human trafficking syndicate operating out of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Every OFW departing from the Philippines for the first time is required to obtain the OEC, so the suspension also meant a halt in deployment.

In response to Bello’s order, the Hong Kong government has decided to grant up to two weeks’ extension to the work contracts of foreign domestic workers which are expiring on or before Dec 31.

This so-called flexibility arrangement aims to ease the potential impact on local families if the new domestic helpers they are hiring from the Philippines are not able to come before, or shortly after, the expiration of their contracts with their existing helpers

“We hope (the) flexibility arrangement can help the families affected by the situation, especially those who need help in taking care of the elderly and children, so that they can retain their current FDHs temporarily while waiting for the new FDHs … to report for duty upon the resumption of (OEC) issuance …by the Philippine government,” a government spokesman said.

Under the Standard Employment Contract, an employer may apply to extend the period of employment of their FDWs by not more than one month by mutual agreement (with) the FDH, and with approval from the Director of Immigration.

The spokesman said families likely to be affected must apply for the longer extension period for their maids directly with the Director of Immigration on or before Dec. 31 this year.

“Prior consent from the Commissioner for Labour is required for extending the period of an FDH contract beyond a month,” the spokesman said.

The application for extension of stay of FDHs may be submitted directly during office hours or by post to the Foreign Domestic Helpers Section at Immigration Tower in Wan Chai. The required documents for submitting the application are as follows:
1. Visa/Extension of Stay Application Form for Domestic Helper from Abroad (ID 988A) completed and signed by the FDH;
2. Original copies (copies only for applications made by post) of the current SEC (ID407) kept by the employer and the FDH with an amendment clause on extending the employment period duly signed by both parties;
3. A supporting letter signed by the employer stating the reason(s) for extending the employment period;
4. The FDH’s travel document (copy only for applications made by post); and
5. A visa fee of $190.

The spokesman also said Hong Kong will continue to liaise with the Philippine Consulate General and request the Philippine Government for an exemption to the suspension order, and resume the issuance of OECs to helpers coming to Hong Kong as soon as possible.

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