With the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), all existing Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) will now be called the Migrant Workers Office (MWO). Since DMW is still transitioning, all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), both new and seasoned, are advised to refer to the MWO offices in their host country. It will serve as a one-stop office for all labor-related concerns and services for OFWs and all migrant workers.
The MWO offices also aim to provide convenient and efficient services to all Filipino migrant workers, ensuring their welfare, safety, and benefits. In addition, DMW will take over the functions of agencies concerning migrant workers, including the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Assistant-to-Nations provided by the Philippine Embassies and Consulates. However, the transition period will take priority in countries with many OFWs. Thus, we would like to advise OFWs of the upcoming changes.
What is Migrant Workers Office (MWO)?
Previously known as POLO, the Migrant Workers Office (MWO) serve as the actual branch office location of DMW abroad, administering the labor laws and program of the Philippines. It’s mandated to protect the rights and promote the welfare of OFWs, where they can seek assistance or file complaints regarding the problems they experience while working overseas.
MWO also offers varying services that OFWs need to obtain essential clearances and requirements for overseas employment, such as Contract Verification, Overseas Employment Certificate, OWWA Membership, and other labor-related documents. Furthermore, MWO provides orientation seminars, educating OFWs about their responsibilities and rights before being deployed to their job sites.
Functions of MWO Offices
As the operating arm of DMW, MWO offices should fulfill their functions, including:
- Protect the rights and promote the interests and welfare of Filipino migrant workers abroad.
- Help Filipino migrant workers with all the issues occurring in the employer-employee relationship.
- Promote and administer DMW’s employment program abroad, which should be consistent with the government’s overall policy.
- Verify OFWs’ employment contracts and other work-related documents.
- Supervise and report on the policy development, labor market conditions of the host country, or any situation that may affect OFWs and the labor policies of the Philippines.
- Monitor and coordinate the performance of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC).
- Handle relations and need-based community development programs
- Partaking in socio-cultural activities organized by the host country, the Philippine government, Filipino communities, and other organizations
- Implement other functions conducted by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary.
Programs & Services MWO Offices offer to OFWs
Despite working abroad, OFWs can feel the presence of the Philippine government and access essential programs and services from MWO, such as:
Labor and Employment Services
- Accreditation of Prospective Employers – the authority given to a foreign employer/principal to recruit and employ Filipino workers via a licensed Philippine Recruitment Agency (PRA) for work abroad.
- Employment Contract Verification – the process MWO performs to protect the employment rights, welfare, and benefits of OFWs; ensure OFWs’ contracts comply with the current employment laws, standards, and practices in the Philippines and host country.
- Assistance to Balik-Manggagawa – help OFWs in processing the requirements for Balik-Manggagawa or returning workers
- Information Dissemination – provide prompt and essential information thru communication and education materials for OFWs, such as website, Facebook page, or printed materials (posters, flyers, etc.)
- Monitoring and Reporting – constantly monitors and reports the host country policy development and labor market conditions, which may affect OFWs and Philippines labor policies.
- Consular Outreach Missions – provide labor-relates services and programs to OFWs and Filipino communities
- Social-Cultural Activities for OFWs and Support to Filipino Communities – promotes Filipino Bayanihan Spirit while working and living in a foreign country.
- Consultative Meetings with partner Host Government Agencies, Diplomatic Missions, and other Stakeholders – execute consultation meetings with partner agencies and labor offices in the host country to provide updates regarding the prevailing employment and labor policies
- Monitoring of OFWs – monitor the living and working environment of OFWs
- OWWA Membership Application/Renewal – US$25 (converted to the local currency based on the foreign exchange rate); OWWA members are entitled to different services and benefits, including:
- Education and Training Assistance
- Social and Family Welfare Services
- Social Benefits (Disability, Death, Burial Benefits)
- Welfare Assistance (Calamity, Bereavement, Medical, Relief Assistance)
- Workers Welfare Assistance
- Reintegration and Livelihood Assistance
- Workers Welfare Assistance Program
- Meditation/conciliation with recruitment agencies and employer
- Referral Assistance to OFWs who want to file welfare/labor cases against their recruitment agencies or employer
- Psycho-social counseling
- Detention/Jail/Hospital/Work Campsite Visitation
- Repatriation Assistance to distressed, physically or mentally ill workers and human remains
- Other assistance on situations, personal/relationships, or problems
- Reintegration-Preparedness Training Program
- Entrepreneurial Development
- Financial Literacy
- Techno-skills and Capacity Building
- Values Formation
Other labor-related documents and services
- Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)
- Helping in filing complaints
- Resolution of problems OFWs encounter while working abroad
Locations of MWO Offices Abroad
Since MWO is mandated to promote welfare and protect OFWs, they have designated offices in countries with many Filipino migrant workers. The DMW employees who are well-informed about labor laws, standards, practices, disputes, and other relevant matters handle MWO offices. Therefore, OFWs worldwide may seek assistance from the following MWO offices designated in their host country:
- MWO Abu Dhabi, UAE
- MWO Dubai, UAE
- MWO Doha, Qatar
- MWO Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia (MWO on Wheels)
- MWO Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- MWO Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- MWO Kuwait
- MWO Manama, Bahrain
- MWO Muscat, Oman
- MWO Jordan
- MWO Lebanon
- MWO Libya
- MWO Syria
- MWO Osaka, Japan
- MWO Tokyo, Japan
- MWO Macau
- MWO Hong Kong
- MWO Singapore
- MWO South Korea
- MWO Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- MWO Taichung, Taiwan
- MWO Taipei, Taiwan
- MWO London, United Kingdom
- MWO New Zealand
- MWO Los Angeles, USA
- MWO Washington DC, USA
- MWO Sydney, Australia
- MWO Ottawa, Canada
- MWO Vancouver, Canada
- MWO Berlin, Germany
- MWO Madrid, Spain
- MWO Milan, Italy
- MWO Rome, Italy
- MWO Cyprus
- MWO Greece
Thus, OFWs should know where the designated MWO is or which office has jurisdiction over their host country. These offices will provide services, like intervention or legal advice in cases of exploitation or abuse; counseling on labor-related issues; verification of employment documents; and educational seminars about OFWs’ rights as per law.
Video: Department of Migrant Workers, set to begin operations by 2023
For more details on Migrant Workers Office (MWO), please watch the video below:
As stated in the video, the Department of Migrant Workers started its operations in 2023. According to POEA, the newly created department will undergo a transition period. The department aims to provide improved services and protection for OFWs. Moreover, agencies from other departments will be absorbed by DMW under MWO, including POLO and OWWA offices abroad, from the personnel and budgets. Thus, the MWO offices will become a one-stop office where OFWs can access labor and welfare services and concerns.
Video: Migrant Workers Dept. to assume OFW services abroad
As discussed in the video, distressed OFWs no longer need to ask for assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Starting July 1, 2023, OFWs can seek help from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). The assistance is turned over to DMW, providing more focus on OFWs.
Under MWO offices, Filipino workers can avail of varying services abroad, such as Legal Assistance, Repatriation of Distressed OFWs, labor-related services, Welfare Assistance, Shelter Assistance, and Emergency/Crisis Response. Meanwhile, the DFA will still join forces with DMW to ensure the services are provided efficiently and smoothly during the transition.
As of writing, MWO has over 40 offices worldwide where most OFWs reside. But MWO aims to open more offices this year in Guam, Hungary, South Africa, and Bangkok, Thailand. Also, the DFA will continue assisting OFWs in areas without MWO offices. Thus, OFWs can ensure help from the Philippine government no matter where they are.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the Department of Migrant Workers?
As the Philippine government’s executive branch, the Department of Migrant Workers (MWO) aims to protect the rights and promote the welfare of OFWs and their families. Formerly known as POEA, this new department will expedite the employment and reintegration of Filipino migrant workers while considering the national development programs. The DMW office is also in the Philippines and is attached to varying agencies, such as MWO and OWWA.
What does Migrant Workers Office do?
Previously named POLO, the Migrant Workers Office (MWO) serve as the overseas branch office of DMW, which also aims to promote and protect the welfare of OFWs. MWO offices are designated in countries with many OFWs, providing them with labor-related services and concerns. However, not all countries abroad have MWO offices. So OFWs should look for the designated MWO with jurisdiction over their host country to access labor-related services.
To sum up, OFWs should expect changes in the process of availing services and documents for overseas employment since the DMW is still in the transition period. Although the changes may be confusing and troublesome at first, the development of the new department only aims to improve the services for Filipino migrant workers. Eventually, OFWs can enjoy convenient and efficient services with these changes, making it easier to access assistance and benefits.
Once the MWO offices have transitioned worldwide, OFWs can ensure protection from exploitation and seek assistance in cases of abuse. As a one-stop office, MWO will provide Filipino migrant workers with labor and welfare services. These offices will also help OFWs know their rights and benefits through seminars and verify their employment contracts to ensure the legality of their stay and work abroad. Therefore, OFWs will benefit from these changes in the future.
Migrant Workers Office (MWO) by Department of Migrant Workers Agency
Headquarters: Ortigas Avenue, Mandaluyong, Philippines
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dmw.gov.ph/