Country’s Pride is at Stake
Professional Skills Test
The Saudi government a few years ago introduced by requiring all professional expatriates in the field of engineering and medical profession to take the Saudi Council exam prior to practice their profession within the Kingdom.
According to Saudi Commission the purpose of the Saudi Council exam is to evaluate the professional abilities and the efficiency of expatriates in the Kingdom and to ascertain that all foreign professional workers are in accordance to the standard of safe practice in their respective field of profession. Though this doesn’t mean that an expat professional get a practice license after passing the test, it just means that he or she have reached the standard required by the Commission to practice their chosen field of profession.
For those in the medical profession, expats can take the exam on the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCFHS) and Engineers have to be registered with the Saudi Council of Engineers (SCE) for the issuance and renewal of their iqamas or residence permits.
And just recently, the Ministry of Labor announced that they will issue work permits to foreigners on the basis of their performance in the professional skills tests.
It is very clear therefore that the Saudi Government and the Saudi business private sector as well want to make sure that their expatriates are highly qualified in their field of expertise. The professional test can also help identify that they’veattained a professional standard within their respective skills and profession.
Obviously, in my personal opinion the move will also give way to Saudi young professionals to compete with expatriates and in the long run Saudi authorities will see to it that all work force in Government and private sector are filled in by their own nationals. This is of course part of the host country’s Saudization program.
Today’s blog entry is just a reminder to all expatriates not to get involve in fraud by submitting falsified or false documents or credentials. Passing the host countries government regulation such as Saudi Council exam doesn’t mean that “you’re off the hook” and can freely practice your profession the way you want it to be.
After the expatriate passed the examinations and the employer observed that the worker is not qualified for the actual given job, the authorities will verify certain education, professional credentials and work experience of the employee. This is a necessity to ensure that the worker meets the minimum training/education and experience required for the position. Upon discovery that an employee provided false or misleading information, or omitted information, related to such education, professional credentials and professional experience, the employer will instruct their Human Resources Department to determine appropriate disciplinary action. It is the responsibility of the hiring department to conduct credentials verification and inquire with the labor sending nations government entities for clarification.
Falsifying records is never a good idea, and the implication of falsifying documents depends on the circumstances involved and the host country’s applicable law on this regards.
Saudi Arabia Visa Regulation
In most countries, if you were caught falsifying documents seeking employment abroad, there will be a criminal conviction but in Saudi Arabia there are other consequences as that may seem even harsher penalties with higher cost and worse outcomes.
Sad to say that illegal activity is becoming increasingly common in the recruitment business, not only in the Philippines but from other labor sending countries like; Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, and other nations. According to the website of Background Check Private Limited (formerly DataFlow Pakistan Pvt. Ltd), the largest and prestigious primary source verification provider in Pakistan says, “fake professional qualification is a serious crime and threaten the safety of public. Engineers, Doctors, Teachers, Heavy Vehicle Drivers and even Pilots have been identified as unqualified when their professional qualifications and licenses were checked. Over 1 million quacks are operating freely in the medical profession in Pakistan and 150,000 are present in Karachi alone.”
On the other hand, in India, the son and daughter of state Health & Family Welfare Minister were allegedly given jobs in the government on the basis of “fake” degree certificates.
In the Philippines, the “Recto Forger University” is very much alive and kicking up to these days.
Assuming, an expat gets hired in Saudi Arabia based on the false information, the employer can simply fire or deport the worker at any time and barring that person from entering the country again or in any GCC countries as well.
However, if the Kingdom will implement their strict law, Saudi Arabia Visa regulation states that taking employment or helping any individual to take an employment based on forgery or cheating; submitting forgery documents or providing false statements to Saudi authorities in the Kingdom or any countries for issuance of employment visa or any kind of visas; forgery, easement or changing the content of foreign travel documents may have the following strict penalties.
• If the violator is an expatriate, he shall be fined 10,000 S.R. or imprisoned for 3 months or both, along with the termination of his Iqama and deportation from the Kingdom.
• If the violator is a Saudi Citizen, he shall be fined 10,000 S.R. the first time; 15,000 S.R. in the second time along with one month imprisonment; 15,000 S.R. in the third time along with 3 months imprisonment. Type of violation shall be considered while applying the penalty.
• These penalties are applicable to the principal perpetrator, partner and contributor.
• Paid money shall be confiscated in all cases.
• Fines are multiplied according to the number of individuals involved and violations.
The Philippine scene
However, if there will be no convictions rendered in such case by the host country against the employee /worker (OFW), a just simple deportation proceedings would be handed to the violator.
Again, sad to say, the story doesn’t end well for the offender. In the Philippines, the state has the right to file a case against the persons or entity who in one way or the other participated knowingly and in common intent unites in the completion of a crime or an offense.
Therefore, the employee and the recruitment agency, together hand in hand (Hawak Kamay) should face the consequences of their action. They are both liable for the offense that has been committed. ( In every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction – The Theory of Flight).
According to the provision of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Rules and Regulations “engaging in act/s of misrepresentation, such as giving false statements, false testimonies or falsified documents in connection with recruitment and placement of workers, such as furnishing or publishing any false notice, information or document in relation to recruitment or employment” is a serious offense and grounds for suspension, cancellation or revocation of recruitment license under Article 39 of the Philippine Omnibus Rules implementing the Labor Code (Pre-Employment) and could be otherwise categorized as criminal violation under Article 171 of the Philippine Revised Penal Code.
Why criminal offense? Frequently Asked Questions about Philippine Criminal Law states “The falsification of a public document may be a means of committing estafa because before the falsified document is actually utilized to defraud another, the crime of falsification has already been consummated, damage or intent to cause damage not being an element of the crime of falsification of public, official or commercial documents. The damage to another is caused by the commission of estafa, not by the falsification of the document; hence, the falsification of the public, official or commercial document is only a necessary means to commit the estafa.”
To my readers and aspiring OFWs out there, don’t use fraudulent documents to land jobs abroad, always think of the consequences that would befall upon you once you get caught. Be treated with dignity – our country’s pride is at stake.
By: Bong Amora (2/2012)