Facts: This is a very flimsy reason. It is voluntary on the part of the applicant whether to talk to the employer regarding his/her withdrawal of application for professional ethics reason. The employer can’t do anything if the applicant decides to withdraw his/her application (even if the employer doesn’t want to for personal reasons) except to require the applicants to reimburse the cost they incur for processing of papers if said process had already started or completed. Additionally, the employer may also “blacklist” the applicant from ever seeking employment in their company and perhaps asking the same favor to the agency to do the same (which is highly unethical). If the withdrawal was made after acceptance of job offer but before processing of papers, then there is really no need to talk to the employer.
2. Requiring applicants to pay processing fees even if no processing of papers were done
Recruitment agencies require an applicant to pay processing fees in cases of withdrawal of application even if there is no processing of papers to speak off because accordingly, the eventual withdrawal of application by the applicant will not divest the recruiter of its rights to charge for expenses relating to job matching and placement.
The processing costs include visa, POEA processing fee and OWWA membership fees to be paid by the employer. (Section 2[a][c] and [d], Rule V, Part II of the 2002 POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based Workers).
Requiring an applicant to pay processing fees if there is no processing of papers to speak off is an absurd demand by the agency. If the applicant upon getting hired and was offered a job but later withdrew his/her application even before the start of the processing of papers process, he/she is not required by law to pay processing fees since the agency incur no damages that would warrant recovery of expenses. The processing of papers starts only upon submission of the required documents to the agency (e.g. TOR, Diploma, NBI Clearance etc), completion of necessary papers for processing by signing the same and most importantly, completion and submission of a “fit to work” medical exam result to the agency. Without the above-mentioned items, there can be no “processing of papers” to speak off, hence, no processing costs/fees are incurred by the local recruitment agency. To do otherwise is illegal and contrary to law.
3. Requiring applicants to pay placement fee in addition to withdrawal fee even without successful placement and deployment
Local recruitment agencies demand that applicants who were hired by employers or representative and whose papers had been already processed by the agency but later on decided to withdraw their application must pay placement fee despite the withdrawal in addition to the withdrawal fees as reimbursement for expenses incurred by the agency in processing the papers of the applicant.
The law is clear on this point. Recruitment agencies may charge and collect from its hired workers a placement fee in an amount equivalent to one (1) salary, exclusive of documentation costs. (Section 3, Rule V, Part II of the 2002 Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based Workers; POEA Governing Board Resolution No. Series of 2001) Some agencies may argue that even in withdrawal of applications, the applicant is still mandated to pay the placement fee because in the first place the applicant was hired and his/her eventual withdrawal of application will not divest the agency of its right to collect placement fee. This line of argument is misplace since what the law actually referred to when it stated that “land based agency may charge and collect from its hired workers a placement fee in an amount equivalent to one month salary” connotes successful placement and deployment of workers. The term “hired” may be ambiguous as to what it really means, whether it connotes the applicant being hired only without mention of actual work or there must be successful placement and deployment (actual work). Reference must be made to Article 4 of the Philippine Labor Code to clear the ambiguity and it provides that “any doubts in the implementation and interpretation of the provisions of the Labor Code, including its implementing rules and regulations, shall be resolved in favor of labor.” Ergo, placement fee shall only be collected for successful placement and deployment of workers. Collection of placement fees as part of the withdrawal fees is illegal and contrary to law.
4. Threatening the applicant with administrative case before POEA
For withdrawal of applications, recruitment agencies threatens applicant of possible administrative charges before the POEA for unprofessionalism or whatever flimsy reason they can come up.
If an applicant did not violate any rules and regulations of the POEA, he/she can’t be the subject of any administrative case before said body. There is nothing in the law (Labor Code or the 2002 POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based Workers) that provides for administrative penalties for overseas applicant who withdrew their application for whatever reason it may be. On the contrary, recruitment agencies found violating any of the above-mentioned laws, rules and regulations are not only subjected to administrative charges for suspension/cancellation/revocation of license but more so, imposition of huge amount of fines and imprisonment of concerned agency officials for a very long time.
The only source of refuge that recruitment agencies may find in cases of withdrawal of applications is to recover expenses (processing costs, documentation fees, service fees, cancellation fees and other incidental costs) that were actually incurred by the employer or the agency and the same must be properly supported by receipts issued by BIR. Hence, the threat of filing an administrative case against the applicant is pure case of harassment and to instill fear so that he/she may yield to the whims and caprices of the recruitment agency concern.
5. Threatening the applicant with either the suspension or removal of license before the PRC
Local recruitment agencies would issue threats to applicants that he/she would either be suspended or have their license revoke by the PRC due to their withdrawal of applications because it is in violation of their Professional Oath and of the Code of Professional Ethics as set forth by the PRC.
The Professional Regulation Commission is vested with exclusive rights and jurisdiction to decide matters relating to suspension or cancellation/revocation of license of professional board passers (except for bar passers [lawyers] which falls under the authority of the Supreme Court) but only on meritorious grounds. Withdrawal of application by applicants seeking for overseas work for whatever reasons is not one of those meritorious grounds that warrants the attention of the PRC nor the suspension or cancellation/revocation of license, The PRC regulates professional board passers and only violations of PRC rules and regulations will merit either the suspension or cancellation/revocation of license of a board passer.
Ergo, the threat of suspension or removal of license is nothing but a threat without substance and is designed only as a flimsy move on the part of the agency to “force” the unsuspecting applicants to pay unreasonable amount of withdrawal fees.
6. Threatening the applicant of getting “black listed” from their agency, other employers and recruitment agencies
The agency would “black list” an applicant who cause the withdrawal of his/her application from ever securing the services of their agency, from the employers in which the applicant turn down the job opportunities, to other future employers from different companies and from the other licensed recruitment agencies in the Philippines.
There is nothing in the law that permits the agency to “black list “ an applicant from ever securing overseas work either thru its agency or other agencies in the Philippines. Common sense would tell us that even if the threat of “black listing” would prove to be successful, the same may only apply on the concerned agency and not to the other agencies. Nor would the concerned agency be successful in convincing the millions of employer world wide just to prove their point in order to get back to the applicant for its withdrawal of applications.
The recruitment of workers for overseas deployment is a money making business and no fool recruiter would prevent an applicant “blacklisted” by a particular agency from ever securing overseas employment thru their respective agency. If an applicant somehow got “black listed” in a particular agency due to his/her withdrawal of application, he/she may always seek the services of other agencies in the Philippines. All an applicant has to do is to visit either the website http://www.poea,gov,ph (for the complete listing of license recruitment agencies in the Philippines), http://www.jobstreet.com.ph and http://www.workabroad.ph (to get the details of overseas job vacancies per specialization, position, country and their corresponding interview dates) and submit his/her resume/CV together with the required documents (e.g. Machine [xerox] copies of TOR, Diploma, Employment Certificate, Training/Seminar Certificate, Passport, NBI Clearance, PRC I.D. and NSO Birth Certificate or CENOMAR) to the agency that advertised the overseas job vacancies that one desires and await for the call of the agency in case shortlisted for final interview with either the employer or representative.
The law enforcement authorities (NBI and Police) comes’ into the picture only if there is a crime involved. In cases of applications for overseas work, only if there is a clear violation of the law (Labor Code, R.A. 8042 and POEA Rules and Regulations governing recruitment and placement of overseas workers) especially in cases of illegal recruitment, would it be proper to solicit the assistance of these agencies in order to protect their rights as enshrined in the law.
Withdrawal of applications (to include withdrawal of documents submitted) and the eventual refusal of the agency concerned to permit such withdrawal without reimbursing certain expenses incurred in relation to the processing of papers of the applicant do not amount to a crime. And since there is no crime, the law enforcement authorities have no business interfering with personal matters between the agency and applicant. It is also within the right of the agency to demand reimbursement for certain expenses arising from processing of papers of applicant since it is the applicant who caused the withdrawal and not the agency concerned.
9. Withdrawal of documents
The applicant may withdraw whatever documents he/she submitted to the agency at any time of the application process either before, during or after the processing of papers and is not required to pay any withdrawal fees since there is no successful placement and deployment of workers overseas to speak off. The applicant has every right to withdraw his/her application for whatever reason it may be.
There are two scenarios regarding withdrawal of documents: First, withdrawal of documents submitted before processing of papers; and Second, withdrawal of documents during or after the processing of papers.
Withdrawal of documents submitted can be easily done if the applicant decides to withdraw his/her documents after the filing of application or even after he/she was offered a job but later on decided to refuse to accept the offer for whatever reason, valid or not, but the same must be done prior to the processing of papers. In this case, the applicant need not make a withdrawal letter nor pay withdrawal fees because the agency did not incur any expenses yet relative to the processing of papers of the applicant. Depending on the agency, withdrawal of documents can be made only on a particular date and time usually Saturday.
However, withdrawal of documents made during or after the processing of papers by the agency (e.g. visa, POEA Job Order Accreditation etc) can only be made after payment of withdrawal fee corresponding to the expenses incurred by the agency in relation to the processing of papers of the applicant, The amount of withdrawal fee varies from one agency to another. (See topic on withdrawal fee for a detailed estimates of withdrawal fees to be paid by applicants)
Typically, only machine copies of required documents (e.g. Passport, NBI Clearance, TOR, Diploma, PRC license, Employment Certificates, Trainings/Seminar Certificate, NSO Birth Certificate and Certificate of No Marriage [CENOMAR]) are submitted to the agency whenever applying for any of the advertised overseas work. Other agencies, however, require the submission of original Passport and PRC license during the application stage which should be strictly avoided by applicants to avoid any problems thereafter. When an applicant would be offered job by the employer, the agency usually require the submission of original passport, PRC license and perhaps DFA authenticated TOR and Diploma for visa and POEA processing of papers purposes. When the applicant would submit the original documents required by the agency (e.g. Passport, NBI clearance, PRC license and DFA Authenticated TOR and Diploma) the processing of papers commences to run and the agency would to start to incur expenses along the way. So that when the applicant decides to withdraw his/her application for whatever reason it may be, the recruiter has every right to charge the applicant a withdrawal fee as reimbursement for expenses incurred relative to the processing of papers of the applicant. The applicant cannot do anything except to pay the withdrawal fees in exchange for the withdrawal of documents submitted.
Of the document submitted, it is only the passport and PRC license which is essential since it would take time to replace them. Other documents such as TOR, Diploma, NBI Clearance, Employment/Training/Seminar Certificate can be secured again in a short period of time. Since time, money and effort are considered essential elements in applying for overseas work, the continuous refusal of the recruitment agency to return original passport, PRC license and other machine copies documents unless the required withdrawal fee is paid, would prolong the timeframe of waiting time of applicants and perhaps re-start the whole application process again in other agencies.
10. Withdrawal Fees
Local recruitment agencies charge exorbitant withdrawal fees to include the processing of papers cost, placement fee, service fee and even airline tickets for applicant who withdrew their application either before, during or after the processing of papers with POEA, payment of POEA mandated fees (e.g. OWWA Membership Fee, PDOS Fee) and visa from concerned embassy of the country of destination.
There is a big difference if withdrawal of application is made either before the processing of papers or during/after the processing of papers.
Should an applicant decides to withdraw his/her application even before the processing of his/her papers by the agency, he/she is not expected to pay any “withdrawal fees” because the agency still did not incur any expenses in relation to the processing of papers. The only possible consequence of withdrawal of application at this stage is the applicant might be “blacklisted” (who cares, there are still a lot of agency out there) so to speak by the agency and the employer. In some instances, the applicant is even being branded “unprofessional” by these agencies perhaps because they failed to make any money out of the applicants.
However, the case is different if an applicant decides to withdraw his/her application when the agency had already started or finished processing papers relative to his/her deployment as they would already be incurring or had already incurred expenses. Aside from requiring applicants to write a formal withdrawal letter (whatever name they call it) and sometimes a personal talk or letter address to the employer explaining reasons of withdrawal, the applicants are also require to pay withdrawal fee (which is legally allowed) equivalent to the cost spent by the agency in processing the papers of the applicant.
But the question that most applicants ask when doing withdrawal of application is: How much withdrawal fees should I pay?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at the component of processing costs/fees. The processing costs include visa, POEA processing fee (for securing POEA Job Order Accreditation and others) and OWWA membership fees to be paid by the employer. (Section 2[a][c] and [d], Rule V, Part II of the 2002 POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based Workers) Given the standing POEA rules on processing costs/fees, the applicant practically has to pay only the Phil-Health/Medicare Coverage fee.
Then the next item that we have to examine is the service fee that local recruitment agency are allowed to charge from their principals to cover services rendered in the recruitment, documentation and placement of workers. (Section 1, Rule V, Part II of the 2002 POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based Workers) The amount of service fee is dependent upon the agreement of the employer and the local recruitment agency. Since there is no standard fee set for service fee, the amount of service fee shall be excluded in the computation of estimated withdrawal fees.
Other things that must also be taken into consideration when estimating for the amount of withdrawal fees to be paid to the agency is the cancellation fees for airline ticket. Airfare, though not part of processing cost, is also one of the fees shouldered by the employer. (Section 2[b], Rule V, Part II of the 2002 POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based Workers). Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) fee of Php 150 shall also be taken into consideration if paid by the agency.
The visa fee varies depending on the country of destination. The POEA processing fee is set at US$ 100 or its peso equivalent (roughly Php 4,800 at Php 48:$1 exchange rate); OWWA membership fee is peg at US$ 25 or peso equivalent (around Php 1,200 at Php 48:$1 exchange rate) whereas the Phil-Health/Medicare Coverage stands at Php 900. If we follow the POEA rules that the visa, POEA processing fee and OWWA membership fee is to be paid by the employer, then the applicant needs only to pay the Phil-Health/Medicare Coverage fee which is Php 900.
To illustrate the point, assuming that the applicant decides to withdraw his/her application for employment in Saudi Arabia and the agency had already process his/her papers (e.g. visa, paid POEA Processing Fees, OWWA Fees and PDOS), how much “withdrawal fee” does an applicant have to pay?
According to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia website, working visa sponsored and paid by employers shall cost approximately SR 2,000 (Php 26,000 at SR13:Php1 exchange rate). Adding the processing costs (e.g. POEA processing fee and OWWA membership fee) and the PDOS fee of Php 150, the following are the breakdown of “withdrawal fees” that an applicant is expected to pay:
Visa cost (from Saudi Arabia embassy) = Php 26,000
POEA Processing Fee = 4,800
OWWA Membership Fee = 1,200
PDOS Fee = 150
Grand Total (Withdrawal Fees) Php 32,150
For applicants deciding to withdraw their applications on the assumption that the agency had already process their papers (e.g. you already have a Saudi visa stamped in your passport, POEA Job Order Accreditation, paid your OWWA membership fee and PDOS fee), these applicants have to bear the brunt of paying a withdrawal fees amounting to Php 19,150 (excluding cancellation fees for airline ticket and service fee)
The cost is high not to include the expenses an applicant incurs when applying for an overseas work. The total amount may vary depending on which stage an applicant decides to withdraw his/her application. All he/she has to do is do some little math (addition and subtraction) to arrive at the approximate withdrawal fees to be paid that is sanctioned by the law.
One last reminder before payment of any withdrawal fees be made, it is the right of every applicant to ask the agency to substantiate their claims for expenses incurred properly supported by receipts duly recognized/authorize by the BIR. Do not pay for agency incurred expenses for processing of papers not supported by BIR (or Government) issued receipts. Even under the New Civil Code or the Tax Code, substantiation of expenses by way of receipts is required before any payments are made to ensure that only the actual expenses are reimbursed and avoid the instances of overpaying for something that one didn’t actually incur. No amount of explanation or legal sword play would divest the applicant’s right to demand BIR (or Government) issued receipt for expenses incurred by the agency relative to the processing of his/her papers for overseas work. Also, the reason why I suggest that applicants paying withdrawal fee to require the recruiter to substantiate their claim for reimbursement of expenses by way of BIR issued receipts is for income tax purposes on the part of the agency. They may earn income arising from payment of withdrawal fees but the government, thru the BIR, will tax them in return for earned income and that would slice their earning potentials. In this way, an applicant may also get back at the agency in some way.
The estimated withdrawal fee is only for deployment of Land-base Workers (excluding Sea farers and Domestic Household Workers) The estimated Php 32,150 in withdrawal fees does not include the cancellation fees for plane ticket if an applicant had already a confirmed flight schedule but somehow failed to show up at the airport and service fee which is paid by the employer to the agency to cover services rendered in the recruitment, documentation and placement of workers. Cancellation fee for plane ticket does not cost that much but I am clue less as to the amount of service fee as this fee is dependent on the agreement between the employer and agency. The agency has a right to charge the service fee as part of withdrawal fees for lost of income attributable to the fault of the applicant. Had the applicant not withdrew his/her application, the agency may have earned a considerable amount of money for the applicants’ successful placement and deployment.
The moral of the story, before an applicant decides to withdraw his/her application at any stage of the application process, he/she should first weigh the corresponding consequence if the withdrawal of application is made. Would it be to his/her advantage or not? Is there a legitimate reason for the withdrawal? Would the applicant be willing to re-start the whole application process again in other agencies? Are we ready to throw everything away? Remember, the withdrawal of application will cost the applicants not only money but also time and effort.
Whether the reason for withdrawal of application is for good reason or not, it is up to the applicants to decide. Is it a DEAL or NO DEAL?
Essential Questions To Ask Before Applying In An Overseas Job
Many overseas jobseekers failed to clarify with the recruitment agency the important details regarding the job vacancy being offered. Either they are too shy to ask or have completely forgotten all about it. Consequently, when the employment contract, visa and other travel documents arrives they began to have second thoughts in leaving the country. This does not only burden the philippine recruitment agency but the applicants as well.
In this article I will outline some of the important questions or details that an overseas filipino workers should ask with the recruitment agency before applying for an overseas position.
1. Salary and other perks - clarify as to what will the salary package will be. Clarifying this details is important since the jobseeker will have an understanfing as to whether the job position being offered will fit into the jobseeker’s income target. Some employers offer a low salary but have an enormous benefits such as free food, transportation etc. In some instances employers offer high salary but does give free housing, food etc.. Another example might be employers will provide a standard salary package on the first six months and increase the salary of the employee after the evaluation.
2. Years of contract – when I was working as a recruitment officer the standard years of contract is 2 years. However, nowadays employers are offering one year contract renewable on the next year. However this will depend on the approval of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
3. Placement Fees - clarify what fees to be paid. Some recruitment agency does not charge applicants with placement fees or any kind of fees for the reason that the foreign employer is shouldering all the recruitment cost. On the other hand, some agency requires such fees to cover cost such as advertising, marketing and others.
4. Working hours and day-offs - In the Philippines, we are accustomed to work eight hours per day, this is not the case in other countries. Some position requires an employee to work at least 9 hours per day without compensating for the additional hour. In Taiwan, factory workers expects an overtime with pay every now and then.
5. Deadline for application and/or Timetable for deployment - This will give you an idea to prepare yourself if you are currently working. Some jobs have ready visa which means that they can be deployed in a matter of days or weeks after the employers have hired the jobseeker. Others will have longer time considering that the documentation process is time consuming especially for first time employers who will be hiring Filipinos.
Clarifying the above details will save everybody’s time (jobseeker, agency, employer). It is frustrating to everybody if all the travel documents have already been process then the jobseeker will back-out from the job position. So the next time you decide to be interviewed by the employer, asked your pre-screening advisor or recruitment officer the details of the job position.