DOLE to require HK agencies to make $78,500 deposit for FDH claims in PH

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Philippine Overseas Employment Agency

MANILA—The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is planning to require all foreign recruitment agencies (FRAs), including Hong Kong employment agencies, to make a US$10,000 (HK$78,500) deposit in escrow before they can recruit Filipino domestic workers.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said yesterday (August 21) that the requirement would ensure that Filipino domestic workers can go after their employer or employment agency if they are abused or overcharged.

This means domestic workers who have gone back to the Philippines would still be able to file cases against their employment agency or employer abroad even if they had gone home. And if they win, the money in the escrow deposit would then be used to pay the domestic worker.

Bello made the statement as he announced that escrow deposit requirement for Kuwaiti FRAs would be suspended pending the issuance of the new Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) order requiring all FRAs to deposit US$10,000 in a bank authorized by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

“The implementation (for the escrow requirement for Kuwait) will be held in abeyance and to be implemented after the POEA issues another directive,” Bello said, quoting POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia.

“The reason is to prevent the idea that Kuwait is being discriminated against in the implementation of the escrow (requirement),” said Bello.

“It might appear as discrimination against Kuwait (FRAs) as we may be asked why the $10,000 escrow requirement was only for them,” he added.

The POEA in 2016 had issued an order requiring all FRAs to make a $10,000 escrow deposit but it was not implemented due to “unresolved issues.”

Last June, the POEA said it will be requiring Kuwaiti agencies to deposit US$10,000 in escrow before they can recruit Filipino household service workers (HSWs).

The escrow requirement was included in the guidelines issued before the Philippines again allowed the hiring and deployment of Filipino HSWs to Kuwait.

Manila suspended the deployment of HSWs to Kuwait in February due to the increased number of abused Filipino domestic workers in the emirate and the gruesome killing of domestic worker Joanna Demafelis.