I applied for overseas employment. When I was about to leave, the recruitment agency informed me that my flight would be delayed indefinitely due to some technicalities. Can I file a case against them on the ground that they failed to send me abroad?
In its pursuit of providing adequate protection to our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), our State adopted a comprehensive law which goes much further than condemn and penalize the act of advertising, promising, hiring and procuring workers without first securing a license from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). To enhance the protection it affords, the law deems a couple of other acts as a form of illegal recruitment. This includes failure to actually deploy a contracted worker without valid reason (Sec. 6 (l), Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8042).
However, before we can conclude that a recruitment agency violated the said provisions of law, it is important to determine the time when it can be considered that there is failure to deploy. On this point, we may refer to the POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based Overseas Workers which expounds on the law and provides details necessary to implement it. Concerning the period to deploy, the said Rule states that “an agency shall deploy its recruited/hired workers within sixty days (60) days from the date of issuance of the overseas employment certificate [OEC]” (Sec. 3, Rule III, Part III, POEA Rules and Regulations). Hence, the agency is granted a period of 60 days from the date of issuance of the OEC to actually deploy an overseas Filipino worker. If the recruitment agency fails to comply with its obligation to deploy within the said period, then it can be considered that there is failure to deploy which may subject the recruitment agency to criminal and administrative sanctions. Please note, however, that the recruitment agency may exonerate itself from responsibility for the delay or failure to deploy if it can cite a valid reason which is determined by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
In your case, it is not certain whether the period granted by the POEA Rules and Regulations to the recruitment agency to deploy you for overseas employment has lapsed. Nevertheless, taking the foregoing into consideration, we can deduce that you may file a complaint for failure to deploy if the delay in sending you for overseas employment has lasted for more than 60 days. The complaint may either be a criminal complaint for illegal recruitment which carries penalty of imprisonment for 12 years and one day to 20 years, and a fine ranging from P1 million to P2 million, or an administrative complaint which carries a penalty of reprimand, suspension or cancellation of license (Sec. 1(C)(4), Rule IV, Part VI, POEA Rules and Regulations). In such a case, it is up to the recruitment agency to raise the reason for the delay or failure to deploy in its defense.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.