House Helpers to Undergo Psychological Tests

DUBAI — Filipinos seeking employment, or those who are already 
employed, as domestic workers in any part of the world, would have to undergo psychological assessment test.

By Lily B. Libo-on

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Published: Tue 14 Oct 2008, 12:51 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 7:31 PM

The move by the Philippine government has sparked resentment among migrant workers’ groups and manpower agencies in the Philippines and overseas.

In a statement issued in Manila last week, Jennifer Manalili, chief of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), said the new requirement, “approved in principle,” would be implemented as soon as the Department of Health is ready with the standard assessment tools.

Sources at the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) in Manila also said the mandatory psychological tests would be carried out on the workers free of cost and only domestic 
helpers would be required to undergo a rigid psychological assessment to determine if they would be able to cope with stress at their work place. “Those who do not pass the initial test would have to undergo training in handling stress,” Philippine labour officials said.

“It is aimed at protecting domestic helpers from abuse.”

Aside from the POEA’s psychological tests, domestic helpers would also be required to attend ‘coping with stress’ orientation seminar at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) before they get the permission to leave their country, Manalili said.

Filipino migrant workers and manpower agencies in Dubai had lambasted Philippine Consul-General Benito B. Valeriano after Khaleej Times highlighted in May his proposal for a rigid psychological test to address the issue of runaway domestic workers in UAE and in other countries in the region.

Their primary objection stemmed from the fact that it would be an additional financial burden on the departing workers. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can depart from the Philippines for any country only after they undergo the medical test, and are declared ‘fit to work’.

Migrante International and the Hong Kong-based Asia Pacific Migrants Mission, both alliances of Filipino migrant associations, dubbed the proposal as “absurd, self-serving, and irrational,” claiming that the domestic helpers run away from their sponsors only when they are driven to the brink of insanity by the maltreatment.

However, the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs in the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, Esteban Conejos, defended the proposal following results of his investigation that seven out of 10 domestic helpers on death row in different host countries had a history of insanity.”

At any given time, 60 to 90 runaway domestic helpers are lodged at the 
Philippine Labour Offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Their complaints ranged from contract substitution, physical and sexual abuse, unpaid salaries, overwork and no rest days.

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