Gov't eyes training for domestic helpers, 'performance bond' for employers in Kuwait

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2018 04:37 PM

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from Kuwait arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila on Monday, February 12, 2018, under government's repatriation program. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The government is planning to provide skills training for house helpers and set up a "performance bond" scheme for employers in Kuwait, officials said Wednesday. 

The move comes weeks after the Philippines and Kuwait signed a memorandum of understanding that aims to improve working conditions in the Gulf state, where several overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have reported maltreatment and abuse by employers. 

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"Ang mga runaway talaga ang problema ng Kuwait. Kaya nagru-runaway minsan ang isang domestic worker, it is because pagdating doon, hindi niya alam 'yung mga trabaho so napapagalitan siya or nasasaktan," Thelma Uanang of the Coalition of Licensed Agencies for Domestic Workers told senators in a Senate hearing.

(Domestic helpers running away from their employers is the main problem in Kuwait. They run away because when they arrive there, they do not know their tasks, what is expected of them, so they are either scolded or are physically abused.)

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) said it is incorporating "language, culture, and workers' rights" into current training programs for domestic workers.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), meanwhile, said it would propose the creation of a "performance bond" - a form of insurance that can be claimed by employers should domestic workers fail to honor their contract.

Employers in Gulf countries usually shoulder the visa, medical, and transportation fees of a domestic worker they wish to hire. 

POEA administrator Bernard Olalia said the "high cost" of hiring a domestic worker is usually one of the reasons why employers abroad refuse to end contracts with their household helpers. 

"Isa sa mga solusyon na isasama namin sa guidelines ay ang maglagay ng performance bond para sa mga employer para kapag hindi nasunod [ang kontrata] at umalis ang domestic worker, mayroong insurance company na magbabalik doon sa high cost na binayaran ng employer," Olalia said.

(One of the solutions we will include in the guidelines would be to put a performance bond for employers so that when the domestic worker leaves and fails to honor their contract, an insurance company could return the money the employer spent to hire the worker.)

"Ire-require rin natin na ma-train ang mga foreign employers dahil kailangan din nilang malaman 'yung mga karapatan ng domestic worker," he said.

(We will also require the employers to be trained about the rights of a domestic worker.)

The deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait was suspended in February after the death of Joanna Demafelis, a domestic helper allegedly slain by her employers in Kuwait, angered President Rodrigo Duterte. 

The ban was lifted earlier this month after the Kuwaiti government agreed to improve the working environment for Filipino domestic workers in the Gulf state.

Among the improvements were guarantees that all Filipino house helpers are entitled to have their own bank accounts, cellphones, and proper meals. Passports of domestic workers should also be kept either by the OFW or the Philippine embassy in Kuwait.