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Philippines may partially lift ban on workers to Kuwait

Philippines may partially lift ban on workers to Kuwait

The Philippines issued a ban on sending workers to Kuwait in January after a Filipina maid was murdered in the Gulf state

The Philippines is considering the possibility of partially lifting its employment ban on Filipino workers in Kuwait.

The move comes after officials from the Philippines met with their Kuwaiti counterparts following the issuance of the ban in January.

Labour secretary Silvestre Bello III was quoted as saying: “I had a fruitful meeting with my counterparts in Kuwait. Both sides agreed on the harmonised standard employment contract. I will talk with the POEA [Philippine Overseas Employment Administration] governing board to recommend the partial lifting of the ban.”

The lifting of the ban will apply to semi-skilled and skilled workers and professionals, he said.

Read: Up to 10,000 Filipino domestic workers bound for Kuwait seeking new options after ban

However, he also clarified that the move will depend on the official status report provided by the Kuwaiti government with regards to the cases of overseas Filipino workers Jeanelyn Villavende, Constancia Dayag and Joanna Demafelis.

The latest ban was issued after Filipina maid Villavende was allegedly killed following abuse by her employers in late December.

Read: Filipina maid killed in Kuwait following abuse, Manila condemns act

“In the case of Villavende, I wanted some validation of their claim that they [accused employers] are formally charged and are behind bars,” Bello III was quoted as saying.

“We have to be content with who has been charged and what are the nature of the charges,” he said.

Meanwhile, the lifting of the ban on returning workers and new hires will be discussed and decided by the POEA governing board.

Last week, Bello, undersecretary Claro Arellano, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Hans Leo Cacdac and POEA chief Bernard Olalia met with Kuwaiti officials to agree on a standard employment contract to protect Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

Under the contract, employers will be prohibited from keeping any of the worker’s personal identity documents such as the passport. The worker will also be entitled to own a phone and use it outside working hours provided that she guards the secrets and privacy of the household and uses the phone in a manner consistent with public morals.

Filipino workers will also be entitled to a paid full day leave per week and must not work for more than 12 hours a day. The worker should be allowed to have no less than an hour’s break after five consecutive hours of work, and the right to at least eight hours of consecutive night rest.

Employers are also prohibited to assign a domestic worker to work outside Kuwait or be transferred to another employer without the worker’s written consent. If this occurs without the agreement of the worker, the worker will be returned to the Philippines at the expense of the employer.

The employer should also ensure the worker’s adequate lifestyle and is obliged to provide medical treatment and nursing by registering her in the health system applicable in Kuwait.

“All of the provisions which President Rodrigo Duterte requested were all granted. The harmonised employment contract should be retroactive and effective immediately,” Bello added.

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