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CG says, still no direct hiring for OFWs coming from Philippines

04 August 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

ConGen Tejada says all OFWs being hired from the Philippines will have to go through agencies

Consul General Raly Tejada has dashed expectations that direct hiring for all overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong has been revived.

“Actually there’s still no direct hire. The new system just revised the previous processing, which means, the contracts will go to HK immigration first before Polo,” said Congen Tejada.
“For the new hires, they still need to go through agencies.”

He made the clarification one day after Labor Attache Melchor Dizon issued an advisory, saying that effective Aug 10 (Sunday), Polo will be implementing a new system for verifying employment contracts.
The process starts with securing an employment visa from Hong Kong Immigration, before the contract and all supporting documents are presented to Polo for verification, and then on to the Consulate for the releasing.

Dizon said that the new procedure “shall apply to new hire, contract renewal, change of employer after mature or premature termination, or ‘break contract.’”

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OFW leader Eman Villanueva, who yesterday hailed the return of direct hire for all workers, was quick to label the explanation as a “u-turn” by the Polo chief, possibly because of pressure from agency groups.

“U-turn yan,” Villanueva said. “There was no mention of ‘employment agency’ in any part of the advisory.”

He added, “The advisory is very clear. Walang sign na may na-miss na point at wala din namang sign na the advisory was addressed to agencies.”

The Polo advisory makes no mention of employment agencies, says Villanueva
Villanueva said the turnaround will cause outrage among those who have started preparing to get their family and friends hired directly from the Philippines, which was an option made available to employers up until the early 2000s.
Thomas Chan, head of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, said his group was told during a meeting with Labatt Dizon earlier today, that all hiring from the Philippines must still go through accredited agencies.

That includes new hires and current FDWs whose contracts were terminated, and were not allowed by Immigration to remain in Hong Kong to process a new employment contract.

“For those terminated, if Immigration allows them to stay in Hong Kong, then it is under the category of ‘transfer’; if not, then it is new hiring from the Philippines,” he said.

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Chan himself had initially thought that going through employment agencies in hiring Filipino workers had become optional under the Polo advisory, and had warned of difficulties being encountered by workers if they processed their contracts themselves.
But the initial purpose of their meeting, said Chan, was his request for help in getting the Hong Kong government to extend to one week the validity period for the swab Covid-19 test that OFWs flying in from the Philippines must undergo.

Many workers and their employers reportedly found the 72-hour limit prior to boarding unrealistic, as most testing centers in Manila could only guarantee results after 3-5 days.
“Since 25 July (when the new pre-boarding requirements for travelers from the Philippines were imposed) there has been no deployment of workers by my members and most other agencies in Hong Kong,” said Chan.

He said the Consulate and Polo both agreed to endorse his group's request to Hong Kong authorities.
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