Manila. The Philippines will lift a ban on sending domestic workers to Saudi Arabia and reimpose it in November after Riyadh agreed to beef up protections for Filipino migrants, officials said. Last November, Manila suspended sending domestic workers to Saudi Arabia – a popular destination for Filipinos working abroad – after reports of abuse and non-payment of wages surfaced.
The deployment will resume on November 7, and the decision was made following discussions between the Philippine Migrant Workers Department and the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources. The agencies pledged to “work closely to promote decent and productive employment” for Filipino workers and ensure “the protection of their rights,” according to a joint statement released late Tuesday.
Among other things, workers will be allowed to quit before their contracts expire if their employer behaves violently, and unpaid wages will be covered by insurance. “Any act of violence, any immoral act is grounds for early dismissal,” Susan Ople, secretary for Filipino migrant workers, said at a briefing.
The Saudi government did not respond to a request for comment. Ellen Sana, executive director of the Manila Migrant Advocacy Center, welcomed the changes but said adhering to the safeguards was critical.
“Not only did they make an announcement. It is important to do due diligence and make sure that all these reforms are implemented on the ground,” Sana said. More than 700,000 Filipinas work in the kingdom, mostly as maids, according to the latest official figures. Millions of Filipinos work abroad due to low wages or lack of work in their own country of 110 million people. The money they send to their families helps keep the economy going.