The Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
This practice consists of the establishment of a central government agency in a major country of origin that implements national migration policies, manages worker protection and maximizes the development benefits of labour migration. The agency regulates and monitors private recruitment agencies and informs potential migrant workers of their rights and support systems at destination.
Act as a one stop service for overseas Filipino workers.
Activities, processes and steps involved
The Philippines has an employment-driven emigration policy that emphasizes temporary labour migration, worker protection and maximizing the development impact of remittances. The Government identifies labour market niches abroad and arranges an orderly supply of labour through supervised recruitment by foreign employers, recruitment agencies and foreign governments based on bilateral agreements. The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 institutes the policies of overseas employment and establish a higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress. POEA together with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are the agencies in charge of the implementation of this act. The Department of Foreign Affairs is also mentioned in relation to the "one country" team approach to labour migration governance.
The POEA implements national migration policies, monitors the departure of migrant workers, educates potential migrants (both land-based and seafarers) on their rights and the possible dangers (in particular, human trafficking) and provides pre-employment orientation in cooperation with local government units and legal assistance to OFWs.
In addition, the POEA regulates private Philippines-based recruitment agencies through a licensing system, which must enter into legally enforceable work contracts with workers seeking employment abroad. The POEA approves these contracts, monitors malpractices and prosecutes violators of recruitment standards.
As a requirement of the POEA processing of applications, an OWWA membership fee has to be paid. This fee can be charged to the employer of the OFW. Migrant workers pay an application fee of US$ 25 and are required to sign-up for medical insurance, costing 900 pesos and which provides coverage for up to one year. Migrants then receive pre-departure training on social and working conditions abroad. Incentives are provided for migrants who return, including loans for business capital at preferential rates and eligibility for subsidized scholarships.
Filipino migrant workers, their families and, in particular, Filipino migrant workers in distress.
The POEA actively seeks partnerships with private recruitment agencies, foreign employers, and Ministries of Labour of destination countries.
Main outputs (as of 2007)
In the area of Employment Facilitation, the POEA presented three significant achievements:
- Administering the labour migration process in a context of more than one million OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) deployed annually.
- Increasing the quality of jobs made available for OFWs. The number of professionals and skilled workers such as nurses, IT workers, production technicians, mechanical and electrical engineers, registered 75 per cent of the total deployment of new hires.
- Providing more safe and secure employment opportunities for vulnerable workers in domestic service through the strict implementation of the Household Services Workers Reform Package.
In the field of Worker's Protection, the POEA Governing Board passed nine landmark resolutions that addressed critical concerns in overseas employment and protection of OFWs. One important resolution is the implementation of an incentives programme for "the Victims and Witnesses of Illegal Recruitment". Under this programme, qualified victims and witnesses receive free legal, financial, welfare and training assistance.
The POEA has also carried out campaigns to educate potential migrants in rural areas on the negative consequences of irregular migration and common illegal recruitment practices. To this end, about 66 per cent of the Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS) were held in rural regions and the remaining 34 per cent were conducted in Metro Manila.
In the field of Industry Regulation and Management, the POEA maintained its stance on the "Hard-to- Enter, Easy to-Go" policy, this policy sets high standards for recruitment agencies As a result, in 2007, there was a 44 per cent decline in the number of new licenses issued to agencies (2007 Annual Report). The Repatriation Programme registered a remarkable achievement with a recorded compliance rate of 92.4 per cent of agencies who were notified to repatriate stranded and distressed workers.
In the area of Internal Management and Support Services, POEA achieved the recertification of their Quality Management System under ISO 9001(2000) by the Certification International Philippines.
Relevant criteria for assessment
1. Respect for migrant worker rights
The POEA comprehensively addresses protection gaps for OFWs through education, assistance, and regulation of recruitment agencies. The POEA provides programmes and implements regulations at every stage of the migration process.
Additionally, the Philippines has also ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in 1995 and the ILO Conventions on Migrant Workers No.143 (Supplementary Provisions), 1975 and Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949, in 2006 and 2009, respectively.
The POEA is a The Philippines has the highest number of labour migrants in the region. The POEA responds to this context; it has brought order and regulation to the overseas employment programmes, coordinated diverse functions and provided a one-stop service.
3. (Positive) Impact
There exists well documented evidence on an improvement in the quality of jobs and the decline in illegal recruitment, among others.
4. Potential for replication and extension (adaptability)
The POEA can be replicated in a variety of contexts, as can be seen in the case of Sri Lanka and, to some extent, Pakistan.
The practice is a pioneering initiative in the 1980s, promoting policy and programme coherence overseas employment administration.
6. Broad-based and participatory
The POEA involves a range of social partners, including government agencies, the private sector and civil society. The Governing Board is chaired by the Secretary of Labour and Employment and involves representatives from the private sector (both sea-based and land-based industries) and women's associations. The POEA also forges partnerships with private recruitment agencies. However, it is worth underlining that trade unions are not part of the POEA Governing Board.
It is part of the formal governance structure and has existed since the 1980s.
The POEA is effective in ensuring good governance of labour migration and protection of OFWs abroad, and is regarded as a model by other countries in the region.
- The Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
BFO Building, Ortigas Avenue cor. EDSA,
Tel: 722-1144, 722-1155
- To implement its activities, POEA receives funding from the Department of Budget and Management, in addition to raising its own funds. The POEA remains one of the top revenue earners for the government.