Philippines to mandate a $10,000 insurance deposit for domestic workers in Kuwait
Following rocky relations between the Philippines and Kuwait due to the murder and abuse of a Filipina maid earlier this year, a new mandate by the Philippines could further worsen ties between the two countries.
The head of Kuwait’s domestic labor offices union, Khaled al-Dakhnan, told Gulf Business that the Philippines’ authorities issued an executive decision mandating Kuwait’s domestic labor offices to deposit $10,000 in local Filipino banks “for every Filipino worker” recruited in the country as a kind of insurance.
Dakhnan said that this number would be increased to $50,000 if several complaints are reported.
He added that the insurance amount would be deducted from the employer if the worker hasn’t completed their contract, or if they have not received their salary or have any other complaints.
The Philippines embassy in Kuwait, however, clarified that the $10,000 in insurance would be required to be paid in an escrow account by foreign recruitment agencies, and not for each hired worker.
Foreign agencies who apply for accreditation to hire Filipina workers would be required to set up and maintain an escrow account with a bank authorized by the Philippine Central Bank.
“This is to protect the interests of our workers and provide better protection, especially to household service workers, but is not required for each and every Filipino hired. The escrow deposit will primarily be for the settlement of all valid and legal claims and satisfaction of all judgment awards arising from violation of contracts of employment,” Ma Teresa Olgado, Assistant Labor Attache to Kuwait told the Kuwait Times.
Kuwait and the Philippines had signed a deal in May to regulate domestic workers, after a dispute between the two countries led to a ban on Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
Under the deal, Filipino workers would be able to keep their cell phones and receive one day of rest per week.
The dispute between the two countries, simmering for months, had reached a highin May when Kuwait had expelled the Philippine ambassador over videos of embassy staff helping Filipino workers flee allegedly abusive bosses in Kuwait.
Kuwait had also arrested drivers who work at the Philippine Embassy who were helping Filipino workers flee as well.
Joanna Daniela Demafelis, a Filipina worker whose body was found in a freezer in Kuwait earlier this year sparked tensions between both countries, and raised questions about domestic worker abuse.