DMW suspends compulsory OFW insurance coverage

On orders by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has suspended the implementation of the Expanded Compulsory Insurance Coverage (ECIC) for land-based rehired and direct hired overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The ECIC for returning OFWs and direct hires was the subject of Department Order (DO) No. 228 issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in October 2021.

POEA officer-in-charge, DMW Undersecretary Bernard Olalia, said the DOLE order was a “protective insurance mechanism against OFWs contracting Covid-19.” In justification of his  suspension order, he cited an advisory dated Aug. 5, 2022 that the global health situation has improved and there is now a high vaccination rate among OFWs.

DMW Secretary Susan Ople noted the suspension “will save our returning OFWs and those hired directly by foreign employers at least US$35 (P1,700) worth of mandatory insurance coverage while reducing the number of requirements imposed by government” which amounts to a big  relief for OFWs, .

Ople said she has received feedbacks from OFWs who were confused if they should continue to pay the expanded compulsory insurance even when most of the country is under Alert Level 1 while other countries have reported lower Covid-19 infections and have loosened travel restrictions.

She clarified, however, that the mandatory insurance coverage for newly hired OFWs remains in place because it remains legal.

“To be clear, there are two types of compulsory insurance– the one for new OFWs as a result of the enacted law, and the expanded compulsory insurance for returning workers and direct hires as required by a DOLE department order. We will continue to implement what the law stipulates,” Ople explained.

“The expanded version set by Department Order 228 for returning workers and direct hires will be set aside for the time being due to the lack of consultation with stakeholders,” she added.

The DO requires OFWs to pay their insurance coverage subject to full refund, on the first day of arrival in their worksite or country of destination.

Ople assured the suspension order “will be followed by a series of formal consultations with all stakeholders most especially our OFWs in different parts of the world via online meetings since they were meant to be the primary beneficiaries of DO No. 228.”

She said the consultations will enable the DMW to report on the progress of other programs and services, including ongoing efforts to cut red tape and carry out the digitalization of the overseas employment certificate.