OFWs need better social protection

Louise Maureen Simeon – The Filipino Star

December 27, 2021 | 00:00

MANILA, Philippines — The government must step up efforts to include more Filipino migrant workers in social protection schemes after the pandemic exposed many foreign workers’ unpreparedness for resilient livelihoods.

In a working paper, the public think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said the return of overseas Filipino workers since last year should remind the government to improve social protection and sources of support. resilient income for OFWs.

Last year, nearly 800,000 Filipinos returned home to the Philippines due to COVID-19, which had a significant impact on the economy, as the country remains heavily dependent on overseas remittances for stimulate household consumption.

PIDS researchers Aubrey Tabuga, Anna Vargas and Maria Mondez said the sudden turn of events caught many OFWs and their families off guard, especially since saving is not a high priority for OFW families. in the use of hard-earned remittances.

“Government agencies charged with promoting the welfare of migrant workers must take more aggressive steps to include OFWs in social insurance,” they said.

The PIDS study showed that the most common benefits received by OFWs are those that address immediate on-site needs rather than those that are seen as safety nets that allow them to smooth consumption during shocks.

The PIDS said basic worker benefits like health insurance, overtime pay, paid sick leave and workers’ compensation are less common.

This makes a significant proportion of Filipino OFWs.

migrant workers who are potentially vulnerable because they do not have access to social protection.

While the Philippine government has programs under the social security system, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and Pag-IBIG, among others, PIDS said not all OFWs are able to benefit.

The researchers argued that some migrant workers experience restricted mobility, which hampers the processing of applications. Others lack OFW’s documentaries… From B1

as some employers may restrict access to these records, while some would prefer to prioritize meeting basic needs and other necessary expenses as income is limited.

They noted that document processing is also difficult, as it would require some workers to take a day off on weekdays when offices are open. There are also few consulates and other government institutions that provide domestic assistance.

“It is imperative that this opportunity is maximized by ensuring that migrant workers are properly protected on site, taking into account all necessary benefits for workers, and that such a migratory journey gives the best possible result, including, but not limited to, an improvement in their ability to access social protection upon their return to their country of origin,” the authors said.

“This shows the urgency of effective mechanisms for dialogue with host country governments to ensure that OFWs obtain adequate social benefits when working abroad,” they said.

The authors argued that it is necessary to target less educated migrant workers and those in basic jobs in all initiatives related to improving social protection awareness and education campaigns, as these workers are least affiliated to basic social protection schemes.

Joel C. Hicks