The Labor department is set to move for the partial lifting of the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait following a fruitful meeting between a Philippine labor delegation and Kuwaiti officials.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he will recommend to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Governing Board the relaxation of the deployment ban after the Kuwaiti government agreed to sign an agreement on a standard employment contract for Filipino household service workers.
“I had a fruitful meeting with my counterparts in Kuwait. Both sides agreed on the harmonized standard employment contract. I will talk with the POEA governing board to recommend the partial lifting of the ban, Bello said.
He, however, said the lifting of a total ban would only follow once an official status report was provided by the Kuwaiti government on the cases of Jeanelyn Villavende, Constancia Dayag, Joanna Demafelis and the Filipina who was raped upon arriving at the airport.
“In the case of Villavende, I wanted some validation of their claim that they [accused employers] are formally charged and they are behind bars. We have to be contented who have been charged and what are the nature of the charges, Bello said.
Upon the issuance of the partial lifting of the ban, Bello said, they will allow skilled, semi-skilled and professional workers to be deployed in Kuwait, while newly hired household workers are still covered by the prohibition. The Balik manggagawa workers category, on the other hand, will be the subject of discussion and decision of the POEA governing board.
Last week, Bello, Undersecretary Claro Arellano, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration head Hans Leo Cacdac, and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Bernard Olalia met with Kuwaiti officials to discuss and agree on a standard employment contract to ensure the welfare and protection of Filipino workers in the gulf state.
The salient provisions of the standard employment contract include prohibiting employers from keeping any of the worker’s personal identity documents such as passport, and the entitlement of a worker to own a phone and use it outside working hours provided that she keeps the secrets and privacy of the household, and use such phone in a manner consistent with public morals.
The Filipino workers are also entitled to a paid full day per week break and must not work for more than 12 hours a day. The worker should be allowed to have no less than an hour break after five consecutive hours of work, and the right to at least eight hours of consecutive night rest.
Employers are also prohibited to assign a domestic worker to work outside Kuwait or be transferred to another employer without the worker’s written consent. If this occurs without the agreement of the worker, the worker will be returned to the Philippines at the expense of the employer.
The employer should ensure the worker an adequate life and is obliged to provide medical treatment by registering her in the health system applicable in Kuwait.