Foreign Employers Must Cover COVID-19 Vaccination for OFWs – PH Gov’t

The Philippine government has announced through its new policy that foreign countries and employers must ensure that those they’re hiring would be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they are cleared for deployment.

In line with this, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Bernard Olalia, emphasized that OFWs would not be cleared for work unless the host country or their foreign employer ensures that they would be inoculated against COVID-19.

Foreign Employers Must Cover COVID-19 Vaccination for OFWs – PH Gov’t
Hundreds of distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are now back home as they arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on September 26, 2020 following their successful repatriation from Beirut, Lebanon. Joining the repatriated OFWs in the chartered flight was Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs, Undersecretary Robert Borje, who was designated Chief of Mission by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Since the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, OFWs awaiting repatriation were either affected by lockdowns or whose work contracts have expired amid unavailable commercial flights. Meanwhile, all repatriates, upon disembarkation, underwent mandatory medical tests prior to proceeding to their respective quarantine facilities. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTOS

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Olalia clarified:  “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,” the Philippine Star.

“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.

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.

Olalia said 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.

He also cited the United Arab Emirates, which has already agreed to vaccinate all Filipino household service workers to be deployed there.

So far, no country or employer has rejected the new policy, which is also being implemented 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 to how this policy will be implemented, Olalia noted that OFWs should ideally 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.

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