MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are not required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before departing for their jobs abroad, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.
DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello said the department has not made any recommendation to make mandatatory COVID-19 vaccination for departing OFWs.
“There has been no decision to recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force that all deployed OFWs need to be vaccinated,” Bello said in a mix of Filipino and English in a virtual briefing Wednesday.
According to Bello, a DOLE representative merely requested the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government to provide vaccinations for Filipino household service workers (HSWs) and other workers to be deployed in their country.
“So it is not a condition. It is a suggestion, and the reaction is looking positive there,” Bello noted.
Last week, the Philippine and UAE governments signed a new bilateral agreement paving the way for the resumption of deployment of HSWs to the Arab country.
Though there was no deployment ban, the Philippine government in 2014 suspended the deployment of HSWs to the UAE, due to the latter’s refusal to comply with recruitment regulations.
“To our HSWs, you now have another employment opportunity. We both know the track record of UAE is good in terms of treatment of our OFWs,” Bello pointed ot.
“With this opening, you are free to go there, but it’s better if you are vaccinated before you leave for there, but if not, we will not stop you. We know that you need the work. We just want to see to it that when you go there and work, you are well protected,” he stressed.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Bernard Olalia said the new agreement with UAE provides protection for Filipino HSWs with the adoption of a mutually acceptable employment contract.
He said the standard employment contract provides all mandatory provisions for safe and rights-based overseas employment.
“Expectedly, no less than 30,000 HSWs will benefit from the deployment to UAE starting March 31,” Olalia said.
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