DOLE waives fee for mandatory occupational health and safety training

Marje Pelayo   •   February 1, 2021   •   598

MANILA, Philippines –  Starting this year, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will be offering the mandatory occupational health and safety training in workplaces and enterprises for free.

The new policy which was announced on Sunday (January 31) is pursuant to the directive of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to enhance workplace health and safety.

It also aims to ease the burden on micro, small and medium businesses amid the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Secretary Bello emphasized the need to ensure the health and safety of the workers and employees to boost productivity as the economy reopens gradually.

“We are waiving the training fees being charged to micro and small businesses. The workers in those enterprises have to be assured of their safety and health while at the workplace. This is a big factor to their productivity,” he said.

“This is also a form of assistance to our MSMEs being hardest hit by the restrictions due to the pandemic,” he added.

The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) law or Republic Act 11058 makes it mandatory to designate and train safety officers in all business establishments, the number of which corresponds to the number of employees in enterprises. 

A fee of P5,500 per trainee is fixed by Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) for the safety training.

It was a requirement ordered by DOLE In March 2019 following the issuance of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the OSH Law released in January of the same year.

Under the guidelines, all establishments “are encouraged to immediately conduct mandatory workers’ OSH seminars for all workers/employees at no cost to the workers and attendance at such seminar shall be considered compensable working time.”

The OSH Law states that all workers are required to attend an eight-hour OSH seminar which should include a joint employer-employee orientation on safety and health standards.

DOLE deployment ban to Saudi Arabia leaves hundreds of OFWs stranded at NAIA

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) were not allowed to leave on Friday (May 28) after the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued a temporary deployment ban to the Kingdom.

Based on the memorandum issued by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), there were reports that several OFWs were being obliged by their recruiters or employers to shoulder all COVID-related expenses including the insurance premium imposed upon entry to Saudi Arabia.

To date, the department has yet to receive any definite guidelines from the KSA if OFWs are exempted from their policy regarding the ban on unvaccinated foreign travelers or those who have been vaccinated with a brand that is not allowed by the Saudi government.

Based on reports from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh, OFWs are being charged up to P1,000 dollars before departure from Manila.

“Wala naman kaming na-receive sa POLO na nagreklamo na worker but as I have heard from Manila, sa Manila ko narinig na may mga nagrereklamo dyan,” said Labor Attache Fidel Macauyag.

“That prompted our secretary and on top of that walang clear guidelines ang ating mga advisories dito sa Saudi kung sino ba talaga ang magbabayad,” he added.

As a result of the temporary ban, about 500 OFWs were left stranded as they weren’t allowed to fly despite their existing contracts.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) was also surprised by the announcement but proceeded even with an empty flight because there are Filipinos waiting for their flight to the Philippines in Riyadh.

Those who were affected have the option to rebook their tickets to another date once the ban is lifted.

POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia, for his part, promised to address the problem while waiting for clear guidelines from the Saudi government.

“Konting pasensya at konting sakripisyo kasi po ang ginagawa natin ay para sa kapakanan ng nakararami,” Olalia noted.

“Lahat po tayo ay makikinabang dito lalong lalo na ang mga OFWs na pinagbabayad ng institutional quarantine, pinagbabayad ng insurance coverage, pinagbabayad ng COVID-19 test at hindi po kinikilala ang mga vaccine na vaccinated na yung mga OFWs natin,” he added.

Olalia assured that the Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA) will shoulder the accommodation expenses of the stranded OFWs as well as their fare returning to their respective hometowns as a result of the ban. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Deployment of OFWs to Israel remains suspended for three more weeks — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   May 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has extended to three more weeks the suspension on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Israel.

According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the agency needs to make sure that all OFWs bound for Israel would be safe and the truce between Israel and Hamas is sincerely being carried out by both parties.

“Give it another two or three weeks at ma-maintain talaga ang strict observance of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian and the Hamas then we will already consider giving the OFWs the OEC which is the final document for their deployment,” Bello assured.

Once the suspension is lifted, about 400 caregivers may be accepted right away as stipulated under the Philippines and Israel’s bilateral agreement.

This is in addition to around 30,000 OFWs in Israel who are mostly caregivers.

To date, no Filipinos are hurt or killed in the ongoing unrest. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Deployment of OFWs to Israel not banned, only delayed — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —  The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) assured that Filipino healthcare workers (HCW) scheduled for deployment to Israel will be safe and secure despite the ongoing armed conflict in the Middle Eastern region.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III clarified that there is no existing ban on the deployment of workers to Israel.

“We have not banned the deployment of our workers to Israel. The processing of those who already qualified continues. We are merely suspending their actual departure while the tension is still high,” he explained.

“Ang pakiusap ko pa sa ating mga paalis na caregivers at healthcare workers ay ipagpaliban ng ilang araw ang kanilang biyahe upang hindi sila mapahamak. Sagutin ko po sila kay Pangulong Duterte kung ano man ang mangyari sa kanila in case sila ay umalis sa kabila ng mataas na tension doon sa Israel. It will just be about a few days of delay. We just want to be sure they will be safe,” he noted.

Recently, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported that some 400 Filipino caregivers are scheduled to be deployed to Israel under an existing bilateral labor agreement.

“We had a meeting with our counterparts in Israel because we are on the final step for the deployment of our OFWs,” said POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia.

“It is also a good thing because we are yet to receive an advisory regarding the ban. So, we will proceed with the deployment of our 400 home-based caregivers in Israel,” he added.

Since there is no existing ban and Israel remains on Alert Level 1, Administrator Olalia said the deployment of OFWs to Israel’s residential zones that are far from the areas of conflict will take place this month.

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