The Philippine government will now require foreign countries and employers to ensure that those they’re hiring would be vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Bernard Olalia, OFWs would not be cleared for deployment until the host country or foreign employer ensures that they would be inoculated against COVID-19.
OFWs Won’t Be Cleared for Deployment Until Foreign Employer Covers Vaccination Fees
According to the Philippine Star, Olalia said: “That’s our existing policy. We will not allow OFWs to be deployed if they are not included in the priority vaccination program of the receiving countries.”
“One of the mandates of POEA is to promote the welfare and protect the rights of our OFWs,” Olalia said of POEA’s commitment to ensure that OFWs are prioritized for protection against the coronavirus.
In line with this, the POEA chief cited Israel for agreeing to include the 400 Filipino caregivers it is hiring in its COVID-19 vaccination program upon their arrival there.
He noted that the policy also applies to other skills like nurses who are prioritized in the vaccination program of other countries where they would serve there as frontliners.
The United Arab Emirates, for example, agreed to vaccinate all Filipino household service workers to be deployed there, Olalia shared.
He added that so far, no country or employer has rejected the new policy, which is also being done for the protection of foreign employers and co-workers.
“It’s not just for the safety of our OFWs, but also for the safety of their employers with whom they would mingle in their workplaces,” he explained.
As for the process on how this policy will be implemented, Olalia noted that ideally should already be vaccinated prior to deployment. However, if vaccines are not available here, they will have to be vaccinated in their destination country.
Moreover, the government is looking to including OFWs in the list of priority groups to be vaccinated in the country.
According to the data shared by the different Philippine Overseas Labor Offices, close to 16,000 OFWs worldwide have been infected with COVID-19. Of this number, close to a thousand have succumbed to the infection.