Ople orders staffing agencies to no longer require PPE for OFW departures

Migrant worker secretary Toots Ople says requiring departing OFWs to wear sets of PPE is ‘outdated, wrong and oppressive’

MANILA, Philippines — Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople has ordered recruitment agencies to stop requiring Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while on the job. leave the country.

The order came after Senator Pia Cayetano noticed a group of departing OFWs wearing full PPE — including face shields, gloves and feet — at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“It’s like the height of ridiculousness that you have to wear these shoes because they walk around the whole airport where thousands of people walk in, walk around every day. So there is nothing hygienic about being on your feet, as opposed to being in your usual rubber shoes or walking shoes,” Cayetano said in a press release on Thursday, September 22.

“Hopefully we can help our OFWs so they don’t have to pay extra to travel for work, and they don’t have to travel in that kind of discomfort,” he said. -she adds.

In a Saturday, September 24 statement, Ople said it agreed with Cayetano and that the PPE requirement for OFWs is “outdated, misguided and oppressive”.

“I regret that I did not issue this order much sooner to spare our OFWs the discomfort of going to the airport in full PPE gear,” Ople said.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, which still operates under the Department of Migrant Workers while the department is still in transition, issued Notice Series No. 62 of 2022 stating that the POEA did not mandate the use of PPE sets for OFWs.

POEA Officer in Charge, Bernard Olalia, said in the notice that with the relaxation of domestic and international travel regulations, as well as the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols in the Philippines, “POEA reiterates that OFW deployment and travel requirements should also be relaxed.

“All approved agencies are therefore reminded of the aforementioned POEA guidelines on the use of PPE, in accordance with the minimum public health and safety guidelines currently being implemented in the Philippines and destination countries,” Olalia added. .

According to the DMW, some PPE requirements come from employers, not agencies, and which agencies simply follow.

DMW said an employment agency told Ople that one of their Japanese managers is still requiring the wearing of PPE sets and masks for Filipino crew bound for Japan, as tens of thousands new cases of COVID-19 are still being reported in the country.

The department was also aware of a Chinese transport vessel that requires its local employment agency to provide PPE to boarding crew to prevent infection during the voyage, with the cost of PPE sets factored in. paid by the employer.

Still, the agency working with Japanese directors said it would abide by the POEA’s advice.

“The DMW strongly believes that having vaccines, boosters and wearing face masks provides sufficient protection for our overseas workers. Until otherwise recommended by our health officials, the POEA’s advisory against the mandatory wearing of PPE for our OFWs by their respective recruiting and staffing agencies will remain in effect,” Ople said.

The Migrant Workers Department noted that Taiwan and the United States have relaxed their protocols for incoming foreign workers. In the United States, airlines only require the presentation of vaccination certificates. – Rappler.com

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