Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New POEA Policy on Direct Hiring - How Will This Affect Us Doctors?

I posted this message on the Pinoy MD forum last night, in the hopes that more fellow doctors will be made aware of this new policy on Direct Hiring. I know that most of my contacts and most of those in my extended network are young doctors like myself, who are considering going overseas for training and employment opportunities.

As doctors, most of us who seek work abroad do not go through recruitment agencies but rather apply on our own and are hired directly by hospitals we are matched to (in the US) or are accepted into (in other countries). Since I see no provisos in the copy of the memorandum (you can get to read the full document over here) for doctors, this will definitely affect our own bids to leave the country through direct hiring. This will be particularly problematic for colleagues who have been given H1b visas to the US. The rest of us who are to be sponsored on temporary employment visa will be greatly affected as well.

How it will ultimately affect us (and our chances for being matched and hired by hospitals abroad), I don't know. But its effects will likely be detrimental rather than benificial given the recent economic slowdown and the fierce atmosphere of competition in the world at large. The POEA has just given foreign hospitals one more good reason not to hire Filipino.

Here is the content of my post on the Pinoy MD forum:

Hello, everyone! I hope people will not be angry with me for cross-posting this in the Health Issues Thread and the Career Opportunities thread, but I feel that our community should be made aware of this new policy. Surprisingly enough, it was a doctor friend of mine already working in Australia who picked this story up and posted it on his blog for the rest of us.

This is very much a topic of concern for doctors because most of the jobs and training programs we secure from abroad are a result of "direct hiring." We do not go through any of the recruitment agencies when we are matched, or when we apply directly to hospitals abroad for RMO positions and the like.
I have already been to the POEA site, and you can download the guidelines in PDF form from the home page.

Among the new changes in the policy is the requirement of USD 11,000 as bond for repatriation and the like for every employee that a company hires through direct hiring. Given the extremely competitive atmosphere in the global market, what company would choose to hire a Pinoy worker directly for that much extra cost when he can shell out a lot less to hire some equally qualified worked through a recruitment agency or from another country all together?

Admittedly, this is all allegedly being done in the guise of "protecting" OFWs from being preyed upon by opportunistic direct-hiring companies abroad.

However, given our government's track record, I can't help but question their motives. I can't help but wonder which recruitment agencies managed to lobby hard enough and shell out enough money to have this change implemented. All the more fishy is how a change in policy this significant has not even generated a buzz in the OFW community - is the POEA keeping this under wraps? How could something with huge repercussions for the hundreds of Filipino workers trying to find work abroad and do not want to go through a recruitment agency (that will only get a huge chunk of their cash and process their applications at the same rate or even slower) have been enacted without a peep of protest?

All this has accomplished is to greatly diminish a Filipino OFWs chance of being hired at all - thus forcing him to resort to paying these so-called "legitimate" and "registered" recruitment agencies to help them find a job.
In the end, who really has benefited from this policy? Is it the really the Filipino workers? Or the opportunistic recruitment agencies that prey on their desperation? Frankly, the fact that our own countrymen are preying on their own is even more disgusting and difficult to stomach. We continue to become our own enemy.

I know that a good number of people who frequent this board are taking the MLEs and other foreign licensing exams or have been matched already. Since this policy change was implemented January 17, this will all affect you as well.

I really hope that some form of collective action can be initiated and done on this manner. At the very least, the POEA and the DOLE must explain the rationale for this move to the public. It should be our choice to make to stay here rather than to have to unlock shackles of our government's making in order to exercise our right to seek employment in the way we see fit and work abroad.

I hope we all do our part in letting your classmates and friends (especially those with plans to go to the US and have already spent so much of their hard-earned money in the process) know about this new development.

The sooner we can generate enough noise to publicize this and its implications on our future, perhaps it will also be the sooner the government will take action on it.
Thank you very much!
As a post-script, I would like to share with you the post of another member of the Pinoy MD forum, which he posted in this thread.

I just happen (sic) to inquire from an Australian recruitment agency. Nakakalungkot but I don't know if this is true for us filipino doctors. I just want to share his reply to me.

Dear Doctor

Thank you for your application, opportunities in Australia have somewhat narrowed for Filipinos. Filipino's (sic) if any are accepted and it is unlikely that they will be are now subject to a 10 000 USD bond refunded on completion of a 2 year contract.

We recommend you try America


Doctors Recruitment

Thank you very much, POEA and DOLE, for shutting down the few windows of opportunity our desperate people already have.


Manggy said...

Answer to your post title--

"negatively, in every conceivable way."


erasmusa said...

thanks for sharing this. the long list of comments following the article is proof that even non-pinoys feel strongly about the issue. i hope somebody with the political will can lead the protest.

claire said...

hi clairebear.thanks for sharing.this is indeed very enlightening and sad. i will forward this blog to the rest of my community too. thanks!


claire said...

hi clairebear! thanks for sharing. it was indeed enlightening, although sad. i will forward this blog to my community too. we might get some action. thanks!

dr_clairebear said...

@ everyone: it's sooo frustrating for the professionals - engineers, architects, designers, doctors - who are usually able to get fair contracts through their own efforts. what is the track record of recruitment agencies in "protecting" OFWs anyway?

I've written to feedback sections of the inquirer and the GMA network site to please pick up this story. If any of you have contacts in the media or higher up in government who can make this their cause, please start writing to them or letting them know. I'm actually quite surprised this story isn't bigger.

duke said...

it is 4am on my night call and i am just fuming mad right now. i officially hate the Philippine Government.


the jester-in-exile said...

strangely enough, the local media in the philippines is not covering this story.

apparently, a contributing factor is that the OFW community does not seem to be reacting as strongly as one should expect.

now, if the OFW community at large (not just migrante et al) really made a big fuss about it in some concrete manner (say, threaten the government with not sending any remittances for the second quarter of 2008), then the story just might get the attention it deserves.

that said, i'm with you guys in your protest against the mafiosis in government. i promise to post any relevant updates when i come across them.

Anonymous said...

well... honestly i am not surprised at all. what else can u expect from those filthy oppurtunistic, corrupt pipol? instead of thinking the welfare of pinoy proffesionals, they are thinkin of their own pockets. am i ryt or am i just bein prejudice? :)