The Department of Foreign Affairs is urging irregular overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to take advantage of the new Saudi government program to correct their residency and labor status.
The Saudi Ministries of Interior and Labor issued on May 10 guidelines allowing irregular workers to correct their status or leave the country without obtaining No Objection Certificates.
With the issuance, irregular OFWs can now leave the country without the need to obtain No Objection Certificates from their current employers, provided that they do not have criminal charges or records against them.
The OFWs will also be allowed to return to the country in the future if they are able to obtain valid working visas.
Other options for irregular OFWs stated in the guidelines include returning to their original employer or transfer to a new employer even without permission or consent of the original employer, and transfer of household workers to a private sector company through the Saudi Labor Offices.
As part of the implementation of the guidelines, the Saudi government will waive all penalties and fines accruing to an illegal worker before April 06, 2013.
Also, private rights claims between a Filipino worker and his/her current employer will be settled through the court, and will not prevent the Filipino worker from transferring to a new employer.
More significantly, employers are now clearly obligated to hand over to the worker all his personal documents such as passports and residency permit upon request.
Employers are also obligated to make sure that the residency permit of workers is valid. Failure to do so is sufficient grounds for a worker to end their contractual relationship.
The deadline to avail of these concessions is July 03, 2013. After this deadline, the Saudi government will resume its inspections and arrest and / or apply fines against violators – both employers and employees.
Specific details of the guidelines are available in both Filipino and English on the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh’s website: www.philembassy-riyadh.org
Affected OFWs may also contact the Saudi Ministry of Labor’s (MOL’s) customer service number, 920 001 173.
For further inquiries, irregular OFWs may call the following numbers in their respective regions: telephone number 054-591-7834 for Riyadh, Hail, Qassim, Northern Border, Al-Jouf; telephone number 050-126-9742 for the Eastern Region; and telephone numbers 0555-219-613 and 0561-956-14 for Jeddah, and regions under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah (Makkah Al-Mukarramah, Tabuk, Al-Madinah, Abha, Jizan, Najran). (DFA)