A new bill to regulate the government regulations on foreign workers in the Philippines has been endorsed for the approval of the Senate
Senator Joel Villanueva, chairperson of the Senate Labor, Employment and Human Resources Committee sponsored the bill earlier this week, seeking to amend the Labor Code to properly address the influx of illegal foreign workers in the country.
If bill is approved, foreign nationals may be allowed to work in any company in the Philippines only if no local is suitable for the position.
In his sponsorship speech, Senator Villanueva reiterated the importance of the “Filipino First Policy” in regards to job opportunities especially that many Filipinos were retrenched from their companies both in the Philippines and abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a report by Manila Bulletin, the senator was quoted saying “However, even before and amidst the pandemic, one particular malarkey that add salt to the wounds of our Filipino workers is the influx of foreign workers in the country who take on jobs that Filipinos are competent, able, and more than willing to take, such as call center agents, electrical technicians, tour guides, machine operators, and construction workers,”
The senator further added the “virulent mushrooming” of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) which were allegedly violated the immigration, tax and labor regulation of the country. And that despite the quarantine restrictions, POGO remains in operations while most Filipinos could not report physically to work.
“We believe, Mr. President, that the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) should adopt a more stringent process for vetting of foreign workers, not just in POGOs, but in all industries, considering the peculiarities of the industry,” the senator said.
Under the new bill, all non-resident foreign nationals seeking to work in the country must apply for an employment permit from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and that the position shall only be granted by the agency only if there are no qualified Filipino worker for the position the foreign worker is applying for.
In addition, foreign workers may not be able to transfer to another company or change positions within the company without the approval of DOLE.
Meanwhile, companies employing foreign nationals must have an understudy program approved by DOLE, with full commitment to train locals who could, later on take over the task previously held by a foreign national.
The bill also seeks to impose penalty for hiring foreign workers without the proper working permit, for failing to transfer skills and technology to locals and for changing positions or companies without the approval of DOLE.
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