Private staff of foreign service personnel are assured of humane working conditions and protection from abuse under new guidelines.
On Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in the deployment of private staff.
Private staff are members of the household of foreign service personnel and overseas representatives of government agencies who render full-time domestic work under a private employer-employee relationship.
Previously, all private staff endorsed by Foreign Service Personnel and attachés to be deployed to the country of assignment went through the DFA only.
With the signing of the MOU, they are now recognized as “a special class of overseas Filipino workers” whose deployment must go through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
Under the joint guidelines of the MOU, the workers must be paid the minimum wage of the country of destination or in its absence, USD600 per month.
The previous minimum wage requirement was USD400 per month.
Aside from a higher monthly salary with corresponding contributions to the Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Pag-IBIG Fund, private staff will also have additional benefits such as Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) membership, insurance coverage including any medical/hospitalization costs not covered by the insurance, and 15 days of paid leave per year.
The guidelines also provide standards of treatment to ensure that the private staff are protected from any kind of abuse and maltreatment.
They will now be required to undergo a Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar tailor-made for them by the OWWA.
The seminar will cover modules on their work contract as well as the grievance mechanism and legal remedies in case of contract violations.
DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the MOU “adds depth of meaning” to the celebration of the 123rd Philippine Independence Day.
“Sometimes, we forget that our daily comforts and conveniences, even our health and safety, rest on the shoulders of our household staff. They clean, cook, drive for us and our loved ones to and from the house, take care of the daily essentials, which enable us to pursue our occupation, and ultimately our wellbeing and happiness. Not many people from other countries are so lucky as so many of us are. And for a pittance,” he said in the virtual signing ceremony.
“Some may treat their contributions meager and insignificant. Tight-fistedness is a Filipino trait. But we in the DFA know their worth. It is our job to know. We defend their rights in the United Nations and other multilateral avenues, we pursue bilateral cooperation with other countries to protect their rights and promote their welfare, and we have Assistance to Nationals desks in our Embassies and Consulates General abroad to cater to them,” he added.