New bill to regulate POGOs’ foreign workers

If the bill is passed, foreign nationals could only be hired if no Filipinos are available.
If the bill is passed, foreign nationals could only be hired if no Filipinos are available.

Foreign nationals would not be able to be employed without the Department of Labor’s authorisation.

Philippines.- A new bill to regulate foreign workers in the Philippines introduced in Congress this week could have a significant impact on offshore gaming operators (POGOs).

If the bill is approved, any foreign national seeking to work in the Philippines would need permission from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which could only be granted if there are no suitable Filipino workers for the position.

Foreign workers would also be prohibited to change positions in the same company or transfer to another company without DOLE approval.

The bill sets penalties for hiring foreign workers without proper authorisation and for failure to transfer skills and technology to nationals.

Senator Joel Villanueva, chairperson of the Senate Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Committee, sponsored Bill No. 1778 in a bid to regulate the influx of foreign nationals looking for work in the Philippines.

In his speech Villanueva stressed the “Filipino First Policy” was not working to create job opportunities for Filipinos, especially following the reduction of the job market due to the pandemic.

According to Manila Bulletin, he said foreign workers were selected for jobs as agents in call centre agents, electrical technicians, tour guides, machine operators and construction workers.

He also mentioned the “virulent mushrooming” of POGOs that frequently violate labour regulations and in many cases kept operating even under the restrictions of community quarantine.

The DOLE cancelled the work permits of workers employed by POGOs that were not allowed to reopen.

Vilanueva believes the DOLE should adopt a more stringent process for vetting of foreign workers not just in POGOs, but in all industries, and that this would eliminate ambiguities in current permissions from the Bureau of Immigration.

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philippines POGOs regulation