Filipinos warned of ‘third-country recruitment’ after reports of cases in UAE

This form of recruitment is when a Filipino already working overseas is contacted about a job in another foreign country in a manner that often is designed to evade laws in all the concerned countries.

Filipino applicants look at job offers displayed on a glass window of a recruitment agency in Manila. Cheryl Ravelo / Reuters
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ABU DHABI // Filipinos should be wary of recruiters offering jobs in another country and are urged to go through official channels when jobseeking, the Philippine government has said.

Hans Cacdac, head of the Philippine overseas employment administration (POEA) in Manila, spoke out after his office received reports of third-country recruiting from Philippine overseas labour offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as other host countries.

“They risk signing contracts that are not in line with labour standards,” he said.

“For instance, it is possible that one may be recruited and charged exorbitant fees.”

"Third-country recruitment" is illegal because the recruiter and the employer have no licence or authority from the POEA, or the conditions of employment are not up to standard or the job offered is non-existent, he said.

“One risks being recruited to a third country with a contract that is either substandard or not in accordance with that country’s laws, or would have certain conditions that are below the labour market standard of that third country and maybe standards that are not on par with the country’s nationals,” Mr Cacdac said.

Filipinos in the UAE are often offered jobs in third countries such as Iraq and Syria.

“Just the other day we met with our charge d’affaires in Baghdad and he said there were some Filipino household workers in Baghdad who may have come from another country and not directly from the Philippines,” Mr Cacdac said, adding that third-country recruitment can also apply in developed nations.

“But this does not mean that the hiring arrangements are above board because there may be exploitative practices,” he said.

“Recruiters in the host country or the second country will hire workers from the Philippines, which is the first country, for the purpose of undercutting laws, not only in the first and second country, but also in the third country, so that unscrupulous employers in the third country could cut down on labour costs.”

To protect Filipinos against third-country recruitment, Manila’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) helps track down illegal recruiters.

“The DFA and our labour attaches would in turn cooperate with the authorities in the host country, or even in the third country,” Mr Cacdac said. “In the Philippines, we are working on how we could prosecute the third-country recruiters who violate our laws.”

The Philippine government also enters into bilateral agreements with the countries.

“The aim is to achieve a level of cooperation and awareness on the part of the third country to look into such unethical and illegal recruitment practices,” Mr Cacdac said.

“In our recent trip to New Zealand our labour secretary Rosalinda Baldoz signed a bilateral agreement on recruitment practices and controls there. She stressed the need for the New Zealand government to be aware of construction workers who come over from Saudi Arabia or the UAE or elsewhere who may have been placed in a situation where they have been offered substandard contracts, or had gone through a process that is not aligned with the ethical recruitment standards of the Philippines and New Zealand, and workers may have been charged excessive placement fees.”

Filipinos should not apply for overseas jobs using tourist visas, or accept job offers from recruitment agencies that issue those visas, he warned.

“One thing that our people do not understand is that the tourist visa is only a guarantee of travel and entry into the UAE,” Mr Cacdac said.

“It’s a very huge gamble that people take when they go for the visit or tourist visa. That will often end up in abuse and exploitation. It’s easy to dangle a contract to a worker on a tourist visa who is desperate to grab any job that comes along.”