MANILA, Philippines—No new maids have been deployed to Saudi Arabia despite the lifting of the ban imposed by the Saudi government last year.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) head Hans Leo Cacdac said his office is requiring Saudi placement agencies to go through a reaccreditation process to make sure they are “aligned with the new process.”
“This requires, among others, inspection of their offices. We are also ensuring that household service workers (HSWs) will be able to open a bank account pursuant to Saudi Arabia monetary agency regulations,” he added.
In a separate interview, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the deployment of HSWs will remain on hold until the system that would supervise compliance to the new process, including a bank system that would monitor the US$400 salary, is implemented.
Migrant rights’ group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) said the situation has been causing confusion among aspiring HSWs.
John Leonard Monterona, M-ME regional coordinator, said he has been receiving a lot of queries about the issue.
“They’ve been asking if the deployment ban had already been lifted. They are confused because according to several HSW applicants, their recruitment agencies were saying the ban had been lifted, but the POEA is saying otherwise,” said Monterona.
Citing POEA records, Monterona said there were at least 12,000 Filipino HSWs deployed in 2010.
“There are at least 12,000 HSWs who want to come home after completion of their contract; but there could be more, maybe around 30,000 overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia who can’t come home because of the suspension of the HSWs standard employment contract by the POEA,” he said.
Two months ago, the Saudi and Philippine governments already reached an agreement to resume the deployment of HSWs to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi’s ban on the deployment of Filipino HSWs was imposed last year after the Saudi government received complaints from Saudi employers of the additional requirements such as the imposition of a US$400 monthly salary, full address and sketch of a prospective employer by the Philippine government through its labor offices approving job orders for HSWs.
Guarantees for Pinoys
The new standard employment contract (SEC) for new maids contains stronger guarantees for the welfare and protection for Filipino HSWs.
The SEC spells out clear and specific provisions on salary (minimum US$400) and the manner of its payment (bank account to be opened by the employer for the HSW in Saudi); rest hours (at least eight hours of continuous rest) and rest days (at least one day per week); and paid vacation leave in the Philippines (30 days for every two years of service with free round-trip economy class air ticket).
It also requires the employer to provide the HSW suitable and sanitary living quarters and adequate food, or equivalent money allowance; to allow the worker to rest if she is sick, to continually pay her salary and to shoulder her medical expenses.
It also requires Saudi employers to provide free transportation from the Philippines and back upon the expiration of the two-year contract; to ensure timely repatriation, including during cases of termination in which the worker is not at fault.