Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 November 2019

Filipinos urged to avoid job hunting on UAE tourist visas after dozens sent home

The Philippines government requires workers to go through accredited recruitment agents

More than 100 Filipinos prepare for a flight from Dubai to Manila in November 2018 under the visa amnesty. Reem Mohammed / The National 
More than 100 Filipinos prepare for a flight from Dubai to Manila in November 2018 under the visa amnesty. Reem Mohammed / The National 

Filipinos have been urged to migrate through official channels following the repatriation of dozens during the Eid Al Adha holiday.

The Philipine Consulate in Dubai sent home 32 Filipinos on August 11, bringing the total number of repatriations to at least 1,660 so far this year.

The majority had come on tourists visas to find work, putting them at high risk of exploitation by work placement agencies and prospective employees. Some had failed to find work, others had been returned to agencies by employers or left because of alleged mistreatment, abuse or unpaid wages. The majority worked as domestic staff.

To legally hire a domestic worker from the Philippines, prospective employers are required to go through government accredited recruitment agents. Then labour officials must approve the job offer before the worker leaves their home country.

Should there be any offer of employment then they should go through the government agencies in the Philippines

Felicitas Bay, Philippines Embassy

“We always encourage our people not to enter the UAE on a visit visa if they would like to find a job,” said Felicitas Bay, the Philippines labour attache to Dubai and Northern Emirates. “Should there be any offer of employment then they should go through the government agencies in the Philippines.”

They were sheltered at the Migrant Workers and other Overseas Filipinos Resource Centre, which is run by the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Dubai. Women can receive temporary shelter, skills training and attend reintegration programmes at the centre.

The federal government approved the Domestic Labour Law in 2017, guaranteeing domestic staff decent accommodation and meals, one day of paid rest per week, eight consecutive hours of rest per day, and payment of wages within 10 days from the agreed payment day.

However, undocumented workers are at high risk of exploitation. Domestic workers are a particularly vulnerable group because they work in private homes where law enforcement is trickier.

More than 30,000 undocumented workers appealed for assistance in settling their legal status during an UAE amnesty that ran from August to December last year. The Philippine Government repatriated more than 2,417 people during the amnesty.

The Philippines Bureau of Immigration stopped 16 illegally-hired Filipinos bound for the UAE from leaving Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the capital of Manila on August 7, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Immigration officials stopped a group of 29 illegally recruited men and women from traveling to Dubai for work. They had tourist visas and had been promised jobs in the hospitality industry.

Young women who come on tourist visas may be promised office or hospitality jobs only discover they will be placed as domestic staff with employers who do not respect UAE labour laws, cautioned Ms Bay.

“For those who get engaged in domestic work, it can be a very difficult situation,” said Ms Bay. “I would encourage the Filipinos here to enter the UAE through the legal pathways and observe the rules and regulations of the Philippines and the host country. We are all guests here.”

People can contact the Philippine Overseas Labour Office through its hotline (050 652 6626 or 050 558 5536) or by email polodubai@ymail.com

Updated: August 16, 2019 09:56 AM

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