No ban on UAE deployment of domestic workers with verified contracts
MANILA, Philippines—There is no ban on the deployment of household service workers to the United Arab Emirates despite the UAE government’s adoption of a new policy that bars foreign embassies from verifying the work contracts of their nationals.
“There is no deployment ban on HSWs (household service workers) to UAE. However, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration will not process documented domestic workers bound for UAE if their contracts have not been verified by our labor attaché,” POEA chief Hans Leo Cacdac clarified at a news forum in Manila on Friday.
“We continue to process [their papers] as long as their contracts are verified or authenticated by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office,” he added, stressing that contract verification helps protect workers from abuse.
On June 1, the UAE implemented a new unified contract policy to protect, it said, the rights of both employers and employees. But under this new policy, the foreign embassies in the UAE are no longer allowed to verify the contracts of their nationals serving as domestic workers.
“Of course, the UAE has its own authority to implement their own laws. The UAE government believes that they have the jurisdiction since the employment is there. But we also have our own laws that we must impose since the workers come from our territory,” Cacdac added.
He admitted that the apparent non-verification of contracts at Philippine Overseas Labor Offices has resulted in a decline in the number of household workers going to the UAE.
“We stopped processing because no contacts verified by POLOs are coming in. There are a few coming in, but the volume is not as much as before,” Cacdac said.
He explained that contract verification has always been a requirement under Philippine laws and the rules and regulations on overseas employment, which were being strictly applied with respect to all countries of destination, including the UAE.
“Without the requisite verification, HSWs who will travel to UAE will be vulnerable to human trafficking, which we must avoid,” he said.
To prevent this, the POEA would work closely with the Bureau of Immigration and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking to ensure that OFWs intending to work in the UAE as domestic helpers through modes of entry other than the regular work visa would not fall victim to human trafficking, Cacdac said.
The POEA chief also expressed optimism that the current situation would pave the way for bilateral discussions between the Philippine and the UAE governments, particularly for the development of a mutually recognized contract for household workers.
“We already have a bilateral agreement with UAE on general types of workers in 2007. But we need a specific protocol on the protection of domestic workers,” he said.