What Every Overseas Filipino Worker Must Know


Overseas Filipino workers continue to toil abroad hoping to improve the lives of their families back home, exposing themselves as well to the common problems relating to their employment. 

A Guide recently published and released in leading bookstores caught my eye because it addresses many of the issues that any overseas Filipino worker may find difficult to deal wth, much less understand.

The Book is in Tagalog and entitled, “Gabay sa Karapatan ng OFW”.  The author is Atty. Elvin Villanueva, an HR specialist who has a clear grasp of Philippine labor laws.   When asked to describe what his book is about, Atty. Villanueva or “Elvin” readily sent me his book’s synopsis which I am re-posting here for the benefit of readers who are working abroad or who have relatives working in other countries.

Elvin Villanueva’s summary:

This work focuses on the fundamental information that every OFW  should know.

With this guide, OFWs can get a clearer understanding of basic issues such as:

  • placement fee,
  • repatriation expenses,
  • labor offices abroad and
  • illegal recruitment.

Early chapters deal with the organizational structures of POEA, OWWA and other government agencies so you’ll know  know how to use these offices when enforcing your rights. 

Labor laws

Knowing the officers involved in addressing OFW’s concerns is the foundation of understanding them. Labor legislations involving overseas workers are also discussed such as the recent Migrant Workers’ Act which highlights the amount to be paid to an illegally dismissed employee.


Learn how to file cases against employers or agencies. This book teaches you the step-by-step process in enforcing claims starting with filing of complaint, mandatory conferences, filing of position paper, etc.

Solidary liability of foreign employer

Another interesting discussion is on the solidary liability of foreign employer and the local agency. In case of illegal dismissal of an OFW, who shall be liable for backwages and damages? Likewise, is the OFW a regular employee? These are interesting questions that are clearly answered in this book.

Other topics include:

  •  large-scale illegal recruitment,
  • illegal recruitment by syndicates,
  • bilateral labor agreements,
  • mandatory remittance system,
  • VISA, passport and documentation
  • OFW claims for disability and
  • death claims.

Valid Dismissal of Employees: Recommended reading for HR practitioners

Every business owner, employer and HR officer in the Philippines should know the rules on valid dismissal of employees. In the world of Human Resources, hiring and firing can make or break the company.

Most of the problems Human Resources personnel face involve discipline and dismissal of errant employees.  Human resources specialists typically come from behavioral sciences courses and are unfamiliar with legal procedures that have to be observed in meting out suspension and termination

Illegal dismissal cases are easily filed in the labor courts.  They are a source of headaches for the employer who has to go through the hassle of attending time-consuming hearings and be sanctioned for not following correct procedures in firing. 

An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure.

Don’t make the mistake of firing someone on the spot just because you’ve had enough of your employee’s behavior.  While you may have every right to terminate your employee, lack of compliance with legal requirements for dismissal may cost you money in the form of damages and backwages. If you follow the rules of valid dismissal of employees, your employee won’t even think of running to the labor arbiter. Be prepared and show your employees that you mean business by observing the proper procedures of valid dismissal.

You need not be a lawyer or hire one just to fire people the legal way.  If you can read and follow simple rules, you’ll do just fine.

What every practitioner must have

 The author, Atty. Elvin Villanueva, is a lawyer and HR practitioner. He combines legal knowledge and valuable experience in this book which can greatly help unsure HR specialists. An e-book is also available for sale online which comes bundled with suggested forms for notices of dismissal and other important documents to guide the HR specialist.  Available NOW at Php697.00. Buy your copy here.

Lawyer Verification in the Philippines

Unsure about the identity of the one who presents himself as a lawyer or with legal know-how? There are two ways of verifying the authority to practice law. For one to have the authority to practice law, he or she must be a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and must have taken his or her oath of office before the Supreme Court. Online, two websites may provide you with names of all the lawyers of the Philippines: www.ibp.org.ph and www.supremecourt.gov.ph. Verify first before you get conned.

Put Your Agreement In Writing

Your best evidence of a contract or agreement is the paper containing its terms. This must be signed by both parties who agree to be bound by it. Consider it your best defense should anything go wrong in the implementation of the agreement.
The same precaution applies to family law cases, where a parent, who is a party to a support or visitation arrangement, is best protected by an agreement in writing. Having a formal agreement takes the place of constant verbal contact between parties, whose communication with one another is most probably strained. Where the case is pending in family court, it is best to have the court approve and note the agreement. Once approved, either party should be careful in the observance of its terms because any failure in compliance may be subject to enforcement by court order.