Here’s some news that affects OFWs …

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign employers who want to directly hire Filipino workers need to have their applications screened by the labor attaché or the Philippine embassy and approved by the Secretary of Department of Labor and Employment.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Memorandum Circular No. 4, which takes effect January 15, also requires employers to provide a performance bond equivalent to the worker’s salary for three months, a $5,000 repatriation bond, and medical insurance.

The circular, which details the stricter documentation and processing requirements, allows direct hiring for members of the diplomatic corps and of international organizations, government officials of ministerial level, and employers who are hiring on a one-time or trial basis. (See details at

My first impression was — here’s another roadblock in the bureaucracy that OFWs and their employers will need to overcome. On the other hand, I also see the good intentions of the circular….

The new rule specifies that employers who do not want to comply with the bonding and insurance requirements, or with the standard employment contract, will not be allowed to hire OFWs directly. They may do so only through licensed placement agencies willing to assume responsibility for the employees, including payment of salaries and other employment benefits.

A Hong Kong OFW group sees the adverse effect of the circular though

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong might lose their jobs over new rules by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration which, among other things, require prospective employers to post some $8,000 worth of bonds before being allowed to hire OFWs, an official of a group of Filipino workers in Hong Kong said.

Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-Migrante-HK), said POEA Memorandum Circular 04, or the Guidelines on the Direct Hiring of Filipino Workers which took affect January this year, was “a grave threat to our employment.”

The POEA circular also requires all employment contracts for direct hires to be approved by the labor secretary.

Balladares said OFWs who would be particularly hit would be household service workers who were either renewing their contracts with the same employer or were transferring due to finished or pre-terminated contract.

I think the circular and its implementing rules should be looked into in more detail, just to see whether OFWs are positively or negatively impacted by the circular. I fear that the cost of all these bonds will still eventually be passed on to the OFW. Not good.

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