Amid persistent reports of "premature" terminations in Saudi Arabia, Philippine officials there advised overseas Filipino workers in the Kingdom to report terminations "without valid cause" to the Philippine Embassy.
The Embassy particularly urged OFWs who receive questionable termination notices to get in touch with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) nearest their place of work (Riyadh, Jeddah and al-Khobar).
"Amid persistent reports on the termination of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia, Filipino workers who receive termination notices from their employers or who have been terminated without valid cause are advised to get in touch with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) nearest their place of work (Riyadh, Jeddah and al-Khobar). POLO officers will provide the necessary assistance to the complainants," the Embassy said in an advisory posted on its website.
The embassy also urged the Filipino community to regularly visit the Philippine Embassy website for updates on the implementation of the Nitaqat or the Saudization system.
Militant migrant advocacy group Migrante Middle East welcomed the move by the embassy but reiterated its call to the government to ready safety nets for OFWs.
“Outlining what constitute illegal termination is good, but there is a gray area here since the host govt. is now in the process of categorizing companies into coded colors that lead these companies to adopt a self-imposed reduction of their labors and/or staff in their bid to attain the ‘Green’ code to be exempted and not penalized under the Nitaqat scheme," group coordinator John Monterona said.
The embassy noted the Nitaqat system honors existing work contracts, with the sanction for non-complying companies being the non-renewal of work permits of foreign workers, and not their illegal termination.
It said this is why the work permits of foreign workers in red-coded companies will not be renewed, and that the work permits of foreign workers in yellow-coded companies will be limited to six years.
Even then, it said companies that fail to comply with the Saudization targets (red-coded or yellow-coded companies) are given grace periods of six and nine months respectively from June 11, to improve their situation.
On the other hand, the Embassy cited reports identifying the Nitaqat system as the reason for the recent incidents of termination of Filipino workers.
Saudi labor law
The Embassy said the Saudi Labor Law allows an employer to terminate the work contract in the following cases:
1. The worker assaults the employer or any of his superiors
2. The worker fails to perform his essential obligations or obey legitimate orders from his superiors
3. It is established that the worker committed a misconduct or act of dishonesty
4. If the worker deliberately commits any act or default with the intent to cause material loss to the employer
5. If the worker resorts to forgery to obtain his job
6. If the worker is under probationary period
7. If the worker is absent without valid reason
8. If the worker unlawfully takes advantage of his position for personal gain
9. If the worker divulges work-related industrial or commercial secrets of the employer.
"Affected workers are given the chance to refute the ground(s) for their termination. They can also file a complaint with the Saudi Labor Office for illegal termination," the embassy said. – KBK, GMA News