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POLO to stop issuing OECs to certain OFWs starting April 1

by | News, TOP STORIES

Mar. 27, 19 | 6:45 pm

DUBAI: Starting April 1 this year, all overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs), who arrived in the UAE on visit visas and are going home on a break for the first time since getting a job, will have to get their Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC) from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The move is part of POEA efforts to account for all OFWs around the world and have them properly documented so that help can swiftly and effectively be provided in case they run into problems with their jobs or health.

In an exclusive interview with The Filipino Times, Labor Attaché Fely Bay said that to obtain an OEC from POEA, the concerned OFW needs to have his or her employment contract verified at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Dubai or Abu Dhabi with certain requirements and a processing fee of Dh40.

Once the contract is cleared, the OFW can then set an online appointment with POEA so that application for and processing of the OEC can be done, according to Bay.

Used to be when OFWs, in an effort to save time travelling to and queueing in at POEA for their OECs while in the Philippines, would only need to transact with the POLO offices in the UAE to have it.

The OEC is a piece of document that OFWs must have with them when returning to the country where they work at following a vacation or work-related trips to the Philippines. Without it, they will not be allowed to board their flight.

The OEC assures that POEA has pertinent records of their employment abroad with details of their specific whereabouts, employers and next of kin, among others.

Labor Attache Felicitas Bay

Bay said the rule about OEC exemption on qualified OFWs stays. “The POEA may issue OEC…only to returning workers…who are on vacation for one week or less,” she said.

Memorandum Circular

Bay said the new policy was issued through a memorandum circular released by the POEA administrative branch’s central records division on March 14, 2019.

The memo, a copy of which was obtained by TFT, was a follow-up action to POEA Governing Board Resolution 4, Series of 2018 which changes some regulations for land-based OFWs.

Several OFWs however were confused at whether the new policy includes those who have changed employers while abroad but have previously been issued OECs.

The confusion was due to the fact that in cases like this, the old OEC was issued at a time when the OFW was working for its previous employer and that POEA might need a POLO-verified copy of the contract with the current employer to update the OFW’s file in its database.

Officials said they will bring the matter up with the POEA board for clarification.

New provisions

“Kamakailan naglabas ng memorandum circular ang POEA at nakasaad po duon yung mga requirements for the issuance of the OEC,” Bay said. (Recently, POEA issued a memorandum circular stating requirements for the issuance of OEC.)

Bay said the measure was already being implemented but for an added provision on visit visa holders, who have changed their visa status to employment.

“Yan ay ginagawa naman natin talaga, na dapat ang mga kababayan natin na nagnanais na umuwi ng Pilipinas upang magbakasyon ay mag-verify or magpatatak ng kanilang kontrata upang ma-isyuhan ng OEC dito sa Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) Dubai,” she said. (We have already been implementing that, where OFWs wanting to go home to the Philippines on vacation need verify or have their employment contracts stamped so that they can be issued an OEC here at POLO.)

“Ang mababago lang ay yung sa mga kababayan natin na originally or initially pumasok dito sa UAE on visit visas, nakakuha ng trabaho at nagkaruon sila ng employment visa,” Bay added. (The only thing different this time pertains to Filipinos who originally or initially entered UAE on visit visas and were able to secure employment visa.)

“Pagdating ng April 1, hanggang verification of contract lang ang gagawin ng POLO. For the issuance ng OEC, dapat mag-set ng appointment sa POEA ang returning OFW so that the application, processing ang issuance of the OEC will be done at the POEA office nearest sa kanya pag umuwi para magbakasyon sa Pilipinas,” Bay further said. “Hindi na mag-iisyu ang POLO (ng OEC sa kanila) starting April 1.”

(By April 1, POLO will only do verification of contract. To obtain an OEC, the OFW needs to set an appointment with POEA so that application, processing and issuance of the document can be done at a POEA office nearest him or her.)

Requirements

A POLO-verified employment contract is among requirements when securing a POEA appointment for an OEC issuance.

The contract verification process involves scrutiny on, among others, whether the OFW is receiving basic salary of at least not less than $400 or its equivalent of Dh1,500, which is the Philippine government’s baseline.

POLO reviewers take the concerned OFW’s employment package into consideration in cases where the basic salary is below Dh1,500. This, to determine whether accommodation, food allowance, as well as pick and drop to the place of work – or any of these – are provided, instead like in the cases of most OFWs employed in the food and beverage, and hospitality industries.

Other requirements, Bay said, are the employment contract; a valid resident visa page on the passport, a sworn statement of the OFW detailing how the job was acquired; proof of employment like a certificate, a valid company ID or the most recent pay slip.

“The POEA will not issue an OEC if they have not seen a verified copy of the employment contract from POLO,” she said stressing that the new policy covers all POLO posts abroad.

Don’t wait till the last minute

Meantime, Bay said OFWs who have changed their visa status after acquiring a job should immediately work on having POLO verify their contracts and not wait till the last minute when they have already planned their vacation or trip back home.

“Kapag nakakuha na ng employment contract, lahat ng documents ipa-verify agad dito (at POLO). Huwag nang hintayin na kung kailan magpapasko sa Pilipinas saka pa lamang aasikasuhin yung verification of contract,” Bay said. (Have all the documents verified at once and not forego it to a later date like when going home for a Christmas holiday, for instance.)

Stranded

In other developments meantime, Bay said, there were OFWs who have gone home on a break not knowing they needed to have their contracts verified first so that they could be issued OECs.

“Ang nangyayari kasi sa kasalukuyan, yung ibang kababayan natin, hindi kasi nila alam yung proseso kaya yung iba umuwi with the hope na mag-aaply lang sa POEA ng kanilang OEC. Then, sinabihan sila ng POEA na kailangan naming ang inyong verified contract,” she said. (What’s happening now is that some OFWs went home thinking they could apply for their OEC at POEA not knowing that they will be asked copy of POLO-verified employment contract.)

Bay said because of this, officemates, even employers of these OFWs, have been coming to POLO to have the contracts verified and sent to them to the Philippines.

“Imbes na gamitin yung bakasyon mo sa pagpabalik-balik ng papeles, mas maganda nang naayos na ito bago ka umuwi para mag online appointment sa POEA at pagpunta mo dun sa ay mabilis ang issuance ng OEC,” she said. (Instead of using your vacation going back and forth at POEA to work on the papers, it would be better to have them done here so that you can set an appointment with POEA and get your OEC fast.)

Bay said OFWs can visit www.polodubaiportal.org for their questions or send inquiries at [email protected]

What they are saying


Sheryl Palacios-Manalo
Senior Health Unit Coordinator

“Ito ay napakagandang hakbang ng POEA upang masigurado ang seguridad ng bawat OFW saan dako man ng mundo. Dapat lang na madukomento lahat ng mga manggagawang-Pinoy at magkaroon ng database kung saan sila nagtratrabaho at kung sino ang mga employers nila. Para mabilis ang assistance sakali man merong hindi maganda at hindi kanais-nais na mga pangyayari, huwag naman sana. Bagama’t hassle sya para sa mga kukuha ng OEC, iisipin na lng natin na ginawa eto ng gobyerno para sa kapakanan ng nakakarami.


Neds Bansag Toralba
Office Assistant

Mas OK na din yung verification muna dito din hintayin. Sa Pilipinas don na lang din sila kumuha para updated talaga sila. Dapat lang din na mag-report sila duon dala-dala yung documents nila para sa ganuon talagang maging legal process sila dahil sa visit visa sila, di sila dumaan sa legal na Proseso.


Amy Magracia-Miranda
Registered Nurse

OEC and contract verification process will give a great edge, positive effect and advantage for all OFWs as it protects their rights and welfare, more so for those who were on visit visa as some employers may take advantage on job offers and benefits. However, this process should be made easy and accessible for all OFWs. If an OFW needs to do this process in one specific area and may be accessed only by appointment system, then it may take time and put constraint on the OFW whose time and access may be limited.


Emma Wenceslao Sentones
Office Administrator

Kailangang linawin muna yung bagong proseso sa pagkuha ng OEC sa POEA. Dapat malaman kung ano ang mga dokumento na dapat ihanda at kung magkano ang tamang bayad para hindi masayang ang oras ng OFW kasi minsan lang sila umuwi ng ibang bansa tapos ngayon kailangan pa nilang sumadya sa POEA para sa OEC.


Aaron Sam Dela Cruz
Hair and Make-up Artist

Isa na namang dagdag istorbo yan para sa bakasyon nating mga OFW. Kasi instead na mas mabilis sana ang pagkuha ko dito ng OEC, isa pang iisipin at paglalaanan ng panahon ‘yan. Doon sa Pilipinas pa naman e may kabagalan sa proseso. Sana handa sila na magbigay patnubay sa aming mga OFWs para nasa Pilipinas man o dito sa UAE ay magawa namin ito ng tama, maayos at mabilis sa oras.

(Compiled by Neil Bie)

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 2.5 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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