What does the Philippine Government’s suspension of OEC mean to me?
**UPDATE on Monday 11 December 2017:
On Monday, 4th December 2017, the Philippine Government announced the resumption of overseas employment certificate (OEC) processing. A reported 1,200 Hong Kong families had been affected by the ban.
Our partner agency in the Philippines has been able to submit OEC applications but was not able to obtain an estimate for the processing time. Normally, OECs are approved within one week, however, we expect there will be delays in the weeks following the resumption of processing.
Jalilo Dela Torre, the Labour Attaché at the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong made a statement to assure employers that the POEA will work full capacity to clear the backlog. But he was not able to estimate the time it would take to process the delayed applications as it fell within the purview of the Philippine government.
If you are an employer with a worker with a visa in process, you should be prepared that flights will likely be more expensive in December and early January.
If you are a worker currently on holiday in the Philippines and are returning to the same employer, you will not be affected. You should apply for your OEC number online as usual.
On Friday, 10th November 2017, the Philippine Government announced a temporary suspension to the processing of Overseas Employment Certificates until 1st December 2017.
The news affects an estimated 1,000 migrant domestic helpers coming to Hong Kong. However, the suspension affects migrant workers going to all countries around the world, and doesn’t specifically target Hong Kong.
We’ve had a number of questions from employers and domestic workers who are concerned about the news. Below we’ve tried to answer what this means to you, depending on your situation.
What is the overseas employment certificate (OEC) and why has processing been suspended?
The OEC is a document issued by the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to Filipinos working abroad. OECs are issued after the visa is released by Hong Kong Immigration and the document is the final stage in the process. It is proof that the government allows the worker to migrate and workers cannot leave the Philippines without it.
The Philippines Government cites “persistent reports of illegal recruitment” as the reason for the temporary suspension. Illegal recruitment of migrant workers is widespread in Hong Kong and elsewhere and is the reason Fair Employment Agency was set up. For more on the problem, read Our Story.
I am an employer or domestic helper with a visa in process, how does this affect me?
If the domestic helper is processing locally in Hong Kong, processing will continue as normal. You will not be affected by this suspension.
If the domestic helper cannot process locally and has to return to the Philippines, there may be delays to the processing. If the visa is due to be released by Hong Kong Immigration between 13th November and 1st December 2017, then the domestic helper will not be able to leave the Philippines until OECs are released again. This is set to start again after 1st December but there could be further delays due to the backlog and the Christmas period. Employers should also be prepared that flights will likely be more expensive in December and early January.
I am an employer or domestic helper about to start the process of hiring, how does this affect me?
We do not expect you to be affected by the changes and recommend you continue with processing as usual. If you are using an employment agency, read our guide to choosing a responsible agency to avoid illegal recruitment practices.
I am a domestic helper about to go on holiday to the Philippines and will return to the same employer, how does this affect me?
If you are going to the Philippines on holiday and are not changing employer, you will not be affected. You should apply for your OEC number online as usual.
I am a domestic helper currently on holiday in the Philippines and returning to the same employer, how does this affect me?
If you are currently on holiday in the Philippines and are returning to the same employer, you will not be affected. You should apply for your OEC number online as usual.
Who should I contact with questions?
If you are using a responsible employment agency, they should tell you how this suspension might affect you. You should contact them directly if you have questions.
If you are self-processing, this means your worker is able to process locally in Hong Kong and the suspension does not affect you. You do not need to do anything.
Last updated on September 11th, 2018