THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said it has suspended an escrow fund requirement for all foreign recruitment agencies (FRAs) seeking to deploy domestic workers to Kuwait amid fears the rule might be viewed as discriminatory.
Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said in an interview on Tuesday: “Why should only they be required to put up a $10,000 escrow deposit?”
Memorandum Circular 10-A of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) required that FRAs sending overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait put up an escrow fund with any bank authorized by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) of between $10,000 and $50,000.
The circular supplements Memo Circular No. 10, or “Guidelines on the Resumption on the Deployment of Domestic Workers to Kuwait,” issued in June.
Memo Circular 10-A has since been taken down from the POEA website.
Mr. Bello, quoting POEA Administrator Bernard P. Olalia, said Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah D. Mamao “asked for the withdrawal of the implementation of the escrow deposit requirement on all Kuwait FRAs.”
He added that the escrow is an additional burden on FRAs that did not form part of Philippine negotiations with Kuwait to resume worker deployments following reports of workers being mistreated there, which included the death of a domestic worker at the hands of her employer.
He added that POEA is expected “to issue another directive for the application of this escrow to all FRAs for all destination countries.”
In May, the Philippines and Kuwait signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will ensure the security of OFWs in the Gulf state. The OFW deployment ban issued by President Rodrigo R. Duterte was partially lifted, allowing only skilled workers to resume work in Kuwait.
Last month, Mr. Bello said domestic workers can return to Kuwait after both sides agree to a standard employment contract. — Gillian M. Cortez