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OFWs should not pay for training and other fees, says Labatt Dizon

13 November 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao 

POEA rules state that OFWs should not pay any fee before being deployed abroad, says Dizon

A domestic worker should not pay anything before she can work abroad, not even a training fee because training is not required under the rules of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, according to Labor Attaché Melchor Dizon.

Labatt Dizon made the statement when the issue of excessive training fees being charged by employment agencies in the Philippines was raised during a meeting on Wednesday  between officials of the Consulate and some Filipino community leaders.

The meeting was called by Consul General Raly Tejada in response to a request by Filcom representatives on the need to respond to appeals for food, drinks and other support services by quarantined Filipino domestic workers.

Pindutin para sa detalye

The country’s top labor representative said workers already in Hong Kong who were charged training fees should file a complaint so Polo could go after the agencies involved.

They should just file their complaint sa amin. Ang kailangan lang namin kasi yung formal complaint para ma-conduct namin ang mandatory conciliation. Kasi dito sa amin, ang requirement ay bago ang adjudication, mandatory conciliation,” Dizon said.

(They should just file their complaint with us. All we need is a formal complaint so we can conduct mandatory conciliation. Polo is required to do mandatory conciliation before there could be adjudication).

Dizon (left) with Congen Tejada at the meeting with Filcom leaders

During the conciliation, if the worker agrees to settle, the case doesn’t proceed to adjudication, Dizon said.

For those workers who have gone back to the Philippines, they can file their complaints at the legal assistance division on the 4th floor of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration main office in Mandaluyong, he said.

Even after a complaint is settled through conciliation, Dizon said the National Labor Relations Commission can still docket a case if it sees that the settlement amount is too low.      

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Dizon said several issues including training fee were raised during the hearing of Republic Act 10022, which amended RA 8428, or The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.

He cited a provision under the POEA rules that states that if an employer requires the worker to undergo training, the employer should pay for it. Otherwise, the fee charged becomes illegal exaction, he said.

When Balladares asked why POEA still requires pre-departure training for first-time OFWs and assessment for veteran overseas workers, Dizon said: “Wala sa POEA rules (yan)”, he said.

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This was the reason why he had stricken out from the accredited agencies’ undertaking a provision that sets a limit of Php20,000 for the training fee that they can charge because under the POEA rules, they should not be charging for this at all.

Asked if any Hong Kong agencies had been punished for violating this rule, Dizon said some agencies have had their accreditations cancelled recently for collecting excessive fees.

“Kaya ngayon, na-reduce na ang number ng complaints na nari-receive namin,” he said.

(That’s the reason why the number of complaints that we’ve been receiving has been reduced)

Asked how the public, particularly the workers, would know which agencies have had their accreditation canceled, Dizon said the information will be uploaded on a new website that Polo IT experts have developed.

He said the website will be launched in December, but before that, Filcom leaders will be given a “walk through” its different features and functions.

Filcom response to needs of OFWs in quarantine was the main agenda

Also at the meeting were Consul Paulo Saret of assistance to nationals section, assistant labor attache Angelica Sunga and welfare officer Virsie Tamayao.

Pindutin para sa detalye

The Filcom leaders present were Cynthia Tellez from the Mission for Migrant Workers; Edwina Antonio from Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge; Dolores Balladares Pelaez from United Filipinos in Hong Kong; Abigail Hills from Pintura Circle, Baby Jean de Leon from Domestic Workers Corner and Daisy Mandap and Leo Deocadiz from The SUN Hong Kong. 

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