All you need to know about the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)

Crown World Mobility has been providing integrated and comprehensive global immigration and visa services in the Philippines for more than 55 years. In this time, we have managed inbound and outbound services for a range of multinational corporations. In 2020, one of our clients started a large-scale restructuring exercise, where employees were transferred from the Philippines to various global offices.

The decision to relocate these local Filipinos required the application of an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), along with other legally required documents and permits for each of the employees.

This required meticulous planning and monitoring to ensure the project was up to date with immigration law. Crown’s Account Management team worked closely with the client’s global and local teams, proposing a complete and coordinated service plan. This included personal support to manage unexpected challenges and to take care of administrative tasks.

This article sets out all you need to know about the OEC.

What is an OEC?

Under the rules and regulations of the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are required to have an OEC when departing for, or returning to, their work. The OEC, also known as an exit clearance / pass, is a document certifying the regularity of recruitment and documentation of an OFW. It also serves as proof of their registration with the POEA.

The OEC must be presented to an immigration officer at the airport when exiting the Philippines. A worker exiting without an OEC may be prevented from leaving the country. The OEC provides evidence that the Philippines Government allows the Filipino worker to migrate and without which, the Filipino worker cannot leave the Philippines.

As first step, you need to identify the job position of all employees involved, to determine their skills category, such as semi-skilled, highly skilled or otherwise. Based on this information, you would match each employee with the most suitable host country. At the same time, you would also need to conduct thorough check with the Human Resources Department in each host country, ensuring they did not reach the quota as set out under the POEA standards.

The POEA standards

Under Article 18 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, the general rule is that no employer shall directly hire an OFW for overseas employment, except those who are exempt from the ban. Those exempted include professional and skilled workers with duly executed and verified / authenticated contracts containing terms and conditions over and above the standards set by the POEA. For this, the total should not exceed five OFWs from the inception of the hiring entity[1].

If the hiring entity has already reached the quota, the law requires that it engages an accredited recruitment agency before it can employ an OFW. In addition, the hiring entity must also have itself accredited as an employer by the POEA through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO). In its absence, the Philippines Embassy or Consulate must have jurisdiction over the worksite in the host country.

To ensure the protection of all Filipino migrant workers abroad, verification should be conducted or applied by the Labor Attaché. This would certify that the employment contracts of OFWs are consistent with the prevailing employment laws, standards, and practices in both the Philippines and the host country. This is alongside ensuring the documentary requirements for overseas employment as required by the POEA are complied with.

Despite these legal channels, some entities believe that these government requirements are difficult to comply with and are time-consuming procedures. Thus, posing a huge administrative burden just to hire an OFW. As a result, many prospective OFWs and hiring entities choose to bypass the POEA guidelines. This may pose risks to both the hiring entities and the OFWs.

Hiring entities (including principals, accomplices, accessories, and company officers having control, management, or direction of their business) may be liable for violation of Republic Act No. 10022 (RA10022), otherwise knowns as Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, for committing illegal recruitment.

Unregistered OFWs may also face the consequences of not having undergone the complete POEA process. It must be emphasized that these laws and guidelines are there to fully protect migrant workers by providing rules whereby OFWs shall only be deployed to countries where their rights are sufficiently protected. Without proper registration, the Philippines Government may not be able to fully assist an OFW in any immigration or employment-related case or issues they may face while abroad.

Ensuring compliance internally and externally

While working on the application for our client, we encountered various challenges, especially where policy is concerned. The provisions required by POEA did not align with the client’s internal policies. Thus, we had to work and co-ordinate with internal teams to ensure all applications were done in accordance with the country’s law, and not violating any internal policies. As many points of contacts were from different parts of the world, the time zone difference added more challenges.

Our global visa and immigration services

Crown World Mobility’s Immigration practice is nearly 100 strong and supported by a dedicated partner network of legal practitioners, ready to deliver effective support and solutions on business immigration requirements.

Our international services include visa applications, work and residence permits, and ongoing management to ensure assignment compliance. We are also there as a strategic partner – providing advice and planning, reducing potential disruptions or immigration risk in your global mobility program.

Complete visa and permit process management takes away the headaches of complex and ever-changing legal and compliance procedures.

Please contact us to find out more about our global visa and immigration services.

[1] POEA Memorandum Circular No. 08, Series of 2018

Related Topics

Share this Post