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DMW chief Ople suspends mandatory insurance for OFW rehires, direct hires

Citing the “improving” global pandemic situation, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has suspended the mandatory payment of insurance for land-based “rehires” and “direct hires.”

Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Affairs Undersecretary Bernard Olalia, who is also the concurrent officer-in-charge of POEA, has issued Advisory No. 55 Series of 2022, rescinding a 2021 Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) memorandum order to extend the compulsory insurance of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) for rehires and direct hires.

“Considering the improving state of health, and consequently the opening of borders, as well as high vaccination rollout, this rule on expanded insurance coverage needs to be revisited,” Olalia said in his signed order dated August 5.

DMW Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople said she instructed Olalia to suspend the mandatory insurance for rehires and direct hires because of “lack of consultation among stakeholders.”

Ople said that she has received feedback from OFWs who are confused if they should continue to pay for the expanded compulsory insurance even when the country remains under Alert Level 1 and other countries have reported lower Covid-19 infections and have begun to loosen travel restrictions.

“The suspension will save our ‘balik-manggagawa’ workers and those directly hired by foreign employers at least $35 (P1,700.00) worth of mandatory insurance coverage, while reducing the number of requirements imposed by government. Malaking ginhawa ito para sa ating OFWs,” Ople said.

The DMW chief, however, clarified that the mandatory insurance coverage for newly hired OFWs remains valid and in place because this was set by law.

“Para malinaw, may dalawang uri ng compulsory insurance. ’Yung para sa mga bagong OFW na bunga ng naipasang batas, at itong expanded compulsory insurance para sa mga balik-manggagawa at direct hires na nakasaad sa isang lumang department order ng DOLE. ’Yung itinatakda ng batas ay ating patuloy na ipatutupad dahil ito naman ay sagot ng mga foreign employers,” Ople said.

“Ngunit ’yung expanded na version na itinatakda ng Department Order [DO] 228 para sa mga balik-manggagawa at direct hires ay isasantabi muna natin dahil sa kakulangan ng konsultasyon sa mga stakeholders,” Ople explained.

Ople noted that the benefits of such an insurance scheme for rehired and directly hired overseas workers at the height of the Covid-19 epidemic have “yet to be established.”

“The order to suspend will be followed by a series of formal consultations with all stakeholders, especially among our OFWs in different parts of the world via online meetings since they were meant to be the primary beneficiaries of DO No. 228,” Ople said.

She added consultations would also enable the DMW to report on the progress of other programs and services, including ongoing efforts to cut red tape and carry out the digitalization of the overseas employment certificate (OEC).

“We will continue to reach out to our stakeholders so that our goal to make the DMW the home and sanctuary of every OFW is attainable,” Ople said.

For a P1,700 annual premium of OFW mandatory insurance, OFWs and/or families of OFWs can receive these benefits:

• $10,000 (P550,000) in case of death due to sickness

• $15,000 (P850,000) in case of accidental death

• $7,500 (P412,000) in case of permanent disability

• free repatriation of mortal remains

• $100 (P5,500) a month for 6 months if OFW is involved in a case or litigation

• Money claims worth 3 to 6 month in salary in case OFW files case against the employer and wins at National Labor and Relations Commission

• free compassionate visit of relative for 7 days

• free medical evacuation

• free medical repatriation

Total
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