The government has suspended the expanded mandatory insurance for land-based returning and directly hired overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said.
The suspension of the mandatory insurance was based upon instructions from Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan Ople.
“The suspension will save our ‘balik-manggagawa’ workers and the directly hired by foreign employers at least $35 worth of mandatory insurance coverage, while reducing the numbers of requirements imposed by government. This is a great help for our OFWs),” Ople, quoted in a GMA News report, said.
The POEA also said the suspension was based on the improving global health situation, opening of borders, and high vaccination rates among OFWs.
“In this regard, the implementation of the expanded compulsory insurance coverage shall be temporarily suspended pending the consultations and dialogue among the recruitment industry stakeholders, and submission of an offer from the insurance providers, for improved package of services beneficial to the needs of the OFWs,” POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said in the GMA News report.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) last year issued an order to “extend, expand, and strengthen” the protection of OFWs amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ople clarified that there are two kinds of compulsory insurance: for the new OFWs which is mandated by the law and the expanded compulsory insurance for the rehires and direct hires in accordance with an old DOLE order. The compulsary insurance for new OFWs will stay in place
because it will by shouldered by the foreign employers, GMA News reported.
The benefits of such an insurance scheme for rehired and directly hired overseas workers at the height of the COVID-19 epidemic have yet to be established, Ople said.
Quezon City Rep. Patrick Michael Vargas meanwhile filed a bill mandating a free COVID-19 testing for Filipino jobseekers; vulnerable workers in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and the informal economy.
House Bill 1980, the proposed “Free COVID-19 Testing to Promote Labor, proposed that employees who are excluded from current free testing packages under PhilHealth shall be prioritized, as well as small businesses and job-makers who could no longer bear their workers’ regular costly tests.
HB 1980 mandates the Department of Health (DOH), as well as other concerned national government agencies, to provide “free and accessible” COVID-19 testing for vulnerable workers.