Brunei seeks exemption on Philippines' healthcare worker deployment cap

Brunei seeks exemption on Philippines' healthcare worker deployment cap
In this picture taken on April 1, 2019 a newlywed couple has their photographs taken at the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan.

MANILA, Philippines — Brunei's government is seeking an exemption on the Philippines' cap on the deployment of healthcare workers because of increased demand, the labor department said.

Citing a briefing with Labor Attaché Melissa Mendizabal of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Brunei Darussalam, the Department of Labor and Employment said a request was sent in July because of a demand for 200 nurses and 30 doctors.

"There are two hospitals here, one government hospital and one private hospital. The salary is comparable to the salary of nurses in Singapore. Nurses receive high take-home pay because of the free accommodation and transportation. If they render overtime work, they earn as much as 2,000 Brunei Dollars per month," Mendizabal is quoted as saying.

The request comes as healthcare workers in the Philippines raise concerns about working conditions and pay and benefits in the country. The government has a set a deployment cap of 6,500 a year for health workers because many have left the coountry for better opportunities.

"The 6,500 slots are almost running out because we continue to deploy HCWs to countries of destination," POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia told state TV this week, adding there are about 900 slots left before the deployment cap is hit.

Mendizabal said in the Department of Labor and Employment release that there are also around 1,000 jobs in Brunei's oil and gas and household service sectors that Filipinos can fill, adding employers prefer Filipino migrant workers "because of their industry." 

Migrant workers will not have a chance at permanent residency in Brunei and will only be given work passes. Their issues are valid for two years.

According to Brunei's protocols against COVID-19, employers must submit documentation that they have already paid for the quarantine hotels for arriving workers. They must also submit swab test results and roundtrip transfers before their workers are issued temporary visas on arrival. 

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