OFWs cram POLO for contract check to obtain OEC

DUBAI: A total of 6,736 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a visit visa have been able to have their contracts verified and became eligible for Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs).

Labor Attaché Fely Bay told The Filipino Times the high turnout – 4,695 in April, when the policy took effect; and 2,041 in May – was a result of increased awareness on the part of the OFWs to have their papers in order before travelling.

“Very much aware ang ating mga kababayan na kailangan nilang to have their contract verified,” Bay said.

Another 6,837 OFWs who have changed employers since getting their first jobs in the UAE also had their contracts verified – 2,326 in April and 4,511 in May.

Visit visa holders who have obtained employment need to have an online appointment with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to personally obtain their OECs when they get home, as required by the government agency by virtue of a directive it issued that took effect on April 1 this year.

“It is for them to be included in the formal registration system of the government,” Bay said.

Those who have previously had employment visas can obtain their OEC at POLO, said Bay, explaining that they already are in POEA’s data base.

The POLO office has always been crammed with OFWs since the new policy was implemented, having a daily average of some 500 Filipinos queuing in for their papers.

Contract verification involves scrutiny whether the OFW bearer is getting the  proper salary –  at least not less than $400 or its equivalent of Dh1,500, which is the Philippine government’s baseline, Labor officials said.

The new POEA directive created an uproar from some quarters who have long been calling for the abolition of the OEC system citing redundancy. Further, they said the new directive is not necessary in this day and age of paperless, online transactions.

An OEC is required from OFWs returning to the country of work after a spending time in the Philippines for a vacation or other purposes.

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