POEA Memorandum Circular No. 09 on Compulsory Insurance Coverage for Agency-Hired Workers, the Office of the POLO Rome has yet to receive official response from either the Department of Labor and Employment Central Office or the POEA Manila Central Office regarding the exemption from this rule.
The POLO Rome sent a letter-request last November 18, 2010 to the Governing Board of the POEA which is chaired by the Sec. of Labor and Employment, to consider the peculiar characteristics of employment here in Italy where ample protection and benefits, including insurance, is granted by the government to migrant workers, including OFWs.
However, Italian laws require employers to pay pension, disability and medical contributions and foreign workers are covered by free medical assistance during their stay in Italy. Direct hiring system which is observed here may have its flaws but by practice, Filipinos are the ones facilitating the hiring of their relatives through referral with Italians seeking Filipino workers. Hence, it is actually the Filipinos who go through the process of direct hiring to ensure their relatives are taken in the decreto flussi as nominal hires, a process peculiar to Italy.
The only recent reply got from Manila was the Memo addressed to all POLOs or Phil. Overseas Labor Offices dated Nov,. 22, 2010 stating that the issue of exemption for workers with insurance coverage secured by their employers on-site will be taken up during the Nov. 24 2010 Congressional hearing on Migrant Workers Affairs, chaired by Congressman Walden Bello. Pending clarification, the POEA will continue implementing the compulsory insurance requirements.
The good news is so far, no refusal of deployment of workers to Italy from POEA because of the mandatory insurance coverage rule. They are aware of our status here and peculiar characteristics of the labor market in Italy.
POLO Rome is more concerned of the 23-year old rule where the POEA revived the guideline, with the advent of Republic Act 10022 or the New Migrant and Overseas Workers Act requiring ample protection in the deployment of workers, disallowing deployment of workers who are below 23 years old. They also submitted request-exemption from this rule last Nov. 22 and have been following up with them ever since. So far, a number of those we requested to POEA to grant special consideration (usually 21, 22 year olds) have been granted.
There is a planned POLO conference this January in Manila, and POLO Rome is sure these matters will be taken up for further discussion and policy recommendation, the RA being a Law which can not just be repealed nor modified without following proper legal procedures.
POLO Rome promised to keep Stranieri in Italia posted on the developments of these concerns/recommendations as soon as Manila gives the official notice.