After a ban of more than a year, the deployment of new domestic workers to Saudi Arabia has resumed.
According to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, the government gave the green light for the deployment of new domestics or household service workers (HSWs) after the Philippines and Saudi Arabia agreed on a system to monitor compliance with a new minimum wage and better conditions and protection for Filipino workers.
“The new accreditation system, contract verification as well as the banking system that would monitor the imposition of the US$400 monthly salary, have already been set up,” said Baldoz.
Under the new system, only Saudi recruitment agencies duly licensed by the Saudi Ministry of Labor and registered as a business enterprise by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will be allowed to participate in the recruitment of HSWs.
The Saudi recruitment agency has to partner with a duly licensed Philippine recruitment agency that will assist in the recruitment, selection and deployment of the HSWs. The Saudi recruitment agency has to submit accreditation documents to the labor attaché at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh or Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.
Once the labor attaché verifies the required documents, a certificate of accreditation is issued. It will be submitted through the Philippine recruitment agency-partner to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for registration.
When this is done, the Saudi agency can start submitting employment contracts for verification by the labor attaché.
Riyadh and Manila halted last year the deployment of new domestic helpers to Saudi Arabia as negotiations aimed at improving the plight of domestic workers began.
In September, the Saudi and Philippine governments jointly adopted a new standard employment contract (SEC), which contains stronger guarantees for the welfare and protection for Filipino HSWs.
The SEC spells out clear and specific provisions on salary (minimum $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); paid vacation leave in the Philippines (30 days for every two years of service with free round-trip economy class air ticket); and bonus of one month’s salary upon renewal of the contract.
It also requires Saudi employers to provide free transportation to Saudi Arabia and back to the Philippines upon the expiration of the contract; to ensure timely repatriation, including during cases of termination in which the worker is not at fault.