POLO – Philippine Overseas Labor Office – Purpose, Functions and Responsibilities

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) is a Philippine government office stationed overseas that acts as the operating arm of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) overseas. POLO offices implement Philippine labor policies and programs for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interests of Filipinos working abroad.

The POLO office is led by a Labor Attaché, who is in charge of the labor force, which includes an Assistant Labor Attaché, Welfare Officers, Administrative Assistants, Staff Workers, and locally hired personnel.

The Migrant Workers and Other Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFWRC) is supervised and managed by the POLO and acts as a temporary venue for extending and implementing POLO’s programs and services.

philippine overseas labor office polo office

What is POLO?

The Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) arm to the rest of the world is the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO). POLO reports directly to the Secretary of Labor’s office. It serves as DOLE’s operational arm, administering and enforcing DOLE’s policies and initiatives that affect Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).

There are currently 34 POLOs in operation around the world, with 11 in Asia, 13 in the Middle East, 7 in Europe, and 3 in the Americas. Check out the full list of POLO offices here.

The POLOs collaborate with relevant Philippine government agencies, the host government, Filipino communities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that monitor and help our overseas workforce in the delivery of their services.

What are the Benefits?

Because the POLO is the DOLE’s implementing arm, it ensures that OFWs’ rights and working conditions overseas are protected. POLO provides OFWs with social benefits, education scholarship and training benefits, welfare programs, reintegration programs, and repatriation assistance benefits.

Vision

POLO’s vision is to support and protect OFWs by exercising their labor rights.

“Overseas Filipino Workers are exercising their labor rights and are productive, safe, and healthy, serviced by an accessible, responsive, and purposeful POLO”

Mission

POLO’s mission for the next few years is to promote and protect the welfare of OFWs working in other countries while collaborating with Filipino communities and other host countries.

“POLO is the overseas operating arm of the DOLE in different countries that promotes and protects the welfare of OFWs. We collaborate with Filipino communities, coordinate with host countries, and establish and enforce protective mechanisms.”

polo office logo
POLO Office logo

Core Functions and Responsibilities

  • Act as the Department of Labor’s operating arm in their respective geographic areas, administering and enforcing the Department’s lawfully enacted policies and programs in international labor relations.
  • Assist Filipino workers in the creation of contracts and other employment-related papers, to certify or attest them, and, where approved, to collect fees for them; create model employment contracts that are appropriate for their regions of assignment;
  • Assist in the implementation of the government’s foreign exchange remittance program for OFWs to their families/beneficiaries in the Philippines.
  • Assist the Philippine diplomatic or consular mission abroad in establishing and sustaining a friendly relationship and goodwill between the Philippines and the host country.
  • Ensure the rights of overseas Filipino migrant workers are protected, and promote their welfare and interests. Assist them with any problems originating from the employer-employee relationship.
  • Examine employment contracts and other documentation linked to employment.
  • Keep the Department of Labor informed about key labor-related developments, including political, cultural, social, and economic dimensions, as well as policy innovations that may be pertinent to Philippine labor needs.
  • Regular and special reports should be submitted.
  • Promote and defend the overall well-being of Filipino employees working in other countries.
  • Promote understanding and cooperation between the host government and the Philippines, as well as between Filipino workers and management in the country of assignment, through disseminating information on Philippine labor and employment policies and programs, among other things.
  • Upon request, act as a representative of the POEA abroad to serve as marketing agents for the DOLE, with the authority to enter into contracts with foreign employers in accordance with the POEA’s negotiating rules.
  • Perform any additional duties as assigned by the SECRETARY or as required by law.

POLO will be guided by the principles and provisions of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, as amended by RA 10022, and its implementing rules and guidelines, the Labor Code of the Philippines, as amended, POEA Rules and Regulations, consistent with the Department of Foreign Affairs’ rules, and OWWA Omnibus Rules, as well as other relevant rules and issuances.

As such, POLO will have authority over the following matters:

  • Human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation/person trafficking/illegal recruiting and related cases
  • Medical and hospital assistance
  • Non-payment or underpayment of salaries and other benefits is a violation of work contracts and job conditions.
  • Rules violations under the POEA
  • Workers’ repatriation
  • Other requests include workers failing to fulfill their family commitments.

Programs and Services

The main function of POLO is to support and protect OFWs. Here are the programs and services of the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices:

1. Community Networking

The POLO, in collaboration with the Philippine Embassy, contacts other Filipino community organizations around the world.

The following projects are part of POLO’s commitment to community involvement:

  • OWWA members can participate in the DOLE/OWWA Microsoft Tulay Project. Computer fundamentals, hardware assembly and maintenance, and digital imaging are among the courses available. The classes are run by a group of Filipino volunteers who follow POLO’s guidelines.
  • POLO’s Overseas Labor Education Program (OLEP) educates Filipino community leaders and interested OFW on their rights and responsibilities under the country’s Labor Law, as well as other laws that affect them.
  • POLO’s Reintegration Preparedness Program supports FILCOM organizations’ efforts to plan for and prepare for reintegration. Filipino Cooperatives and Savings Associations (FILCOSA) are among the most notable of these endeavors.

Wards at the FWRC also benefit from a volunteer Filipino community group’s livelihood training classes. Cosmetology, meat processing, rudimentary baking, candle making, soy sauce, fish sauce, and vinegar processing are among the topics covered in these classes.

2. Community Outreach

  • Leaders’ Forum
  • Socio-cultural Activities
  • Institutional Events

3. Custodial Program

The Migrant Workers and Other Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC) are run by POLO and is under the administrative control of the Philippine Embassy.

The MWOFRC’s mission is to give temporary housing to Filipino female workers who have had bad work experiences with their employers. It functions as a transitional housing facility where workers can ponder on how to rebuild their lives and move on from their ill-fated careers.

It’s a place where these workers can get ready to return to the Philippines and begin the process of restoring their lives and resuming their roles as productive citizens.

4. Employment Promotion

Verification of employment documentation supplied by prospective employers recruiting Filipino workers is an important service performed by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).

Employment-related documentation must be checked by the Labor Attaché or his lawfully authorized agent before being submitted to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for registration/processing, according to POEA requirements.

Document verification is essential to ensure that Filipino workers are covered by employment contracts that meet the POEA’s terms and standards. For this reason, the processing of employer paperwork including worker complaints has been halted until the concerns have been handled.

5.  Financial Assistance Programs

When an OFW joins the Fund, he or she becomes eligible for benefit programs that are exclusively available to Pag-IBIG members. The Fund provides short-term loans to members for a variety of purposes, including tuition payments, hospital expenses, appliance purchases, modest house repairs, and even small business capital.

They may be qualified for loans ranging from 60% to 80% of their entire savings, based on the number of remitted contributions, which can be reimbursed over a two-year period.

6. OEC Issuance (Overseas Employment Certificate)

An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) on vacation or leave who is returning to the same employer is referred to as a worker-on-leave. They need to get an Overseas Employment Certificate (or Balik Manggagawa Certificate) through the POLO office abroad, or through POEA office in the Philippines.

At the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) , all vacationing OFWs (Balik-Manggagawa) can get their OEC. From the date of issuance, the OEC is valid for sixty (60) days.

7. OWWA membership

OWWA participation, whether through mandatory or elective coverage, will be valid upon payment of the membership fee until the employment contract expires. The member is insured for a maximum of two years before having to renew their membership.

8. Reintegration Preparedness

  • Financial
  • Literacy
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Development Training
  • Business Counseling
  • Skills Training
  • Value Formation

9. Workers’ Information and Education

  • Post-arrival Orientation Seminar
  • Labor Education
  • Immigration Laws and Procedures

10. Workers Protection

  • Counseling – POLO provides counseling to OFWs who contact POLO officers in person or over the phone with various employment-related questions.
  • Mediation/Conciliation – POLO offers mediation and conciliation services to help workers and employers work out their differences amicably. This is done before the Labor Office receives the complaint. This first step entails (a) counseling the worker on his or her options, (b) calling the employer to discuss the worker’s complaint, (c) writing the employer to respond to the worker’s complaint, and (d) visiting the employer to discuss the employee’s complaint and find a solution that is acceptable to both parties.
  • Repatriation Assistance – Negotiations with the employer, police, and/or immigration authorities; plane ticket sourcing; booking and re-booking facilitation; and airport support are all instances of repatriation services.
  • Requests for Assistance – In addition to the cases handled by case officers and welfare officers, POLO also handles requests for assistance (RAs) from various offices in Manila, including the POEA, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Office of the Undersecretary of Migrant Workers’ Affairs/Philippine Embassy. Non-payment of salary/delayed payment, mistreatment, sexual harassment, bad working/living circumstances, and non-issuance of residence permission or exit visa are all examples of RAs.
  • Shelter Provision – Under the direction of the Chief of Mission, the POLO manages the entire operations of the Filipino Workers’ Resource Center (FWRC). The POLO follows admission policies to ensure that runaway HSWs are admitted and stay at the shelter.

Video: POLO Office Seminar

If you want to learn more, go to the LIFE TV YouTube channel and watch the video named POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) Seminar in Antwerp, Belgium.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please check out the following common questions and answers about the Philippine Overseas Labor Office

1. What is POLO?

POLO is the DOLE’s arm to the rest of the world. POLO reports directly to the Secretary of Labor’s office. It serves as DOLE’s operational arm, administering and enforcing DOLE’s policies and initiatives that affect Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).

2. What are the benefits of POLO?

Because the POLO is the DOLE’s implementing arm, it ensures that OFWs’ rights and working conditions overseas are protected. POLO provides OFWs with social benefits, education scholarship and training benefits, welfare programs, reintegration programs, and repatriation assistance benefits.

3. What is the purpose of POLO?

POLO’s purpose is to support and protect OFWs by exercising their labor rights.

4. Is there a difference between POLO and OWWA?

While OWWA is a membership organization that focuses on delivering social benefits and programs, POLO is primarily concerned with labor policy implementation and serves as the DOLE’s “overseas operating arm” outside of the Philippines.

5. How does the POLO help and protect OFWs?

In most cases, the POEA POLO ensures that their services are trustworthy and available to Filipinos in other countries. POLO provides a variety of on-site programs and services to promote and safeguard OFWs’ rights and well-being. Workers’ training, case management, custodial services, repatriation assistance, and other welfare assistance are among the services provided.

6. Is it possible for me to apply for multiple POLO programs and services?

Yes, you can apply for multiple POLO programs and services as long as the requirements aren’t limited to a single service or program.

7. Is POLO associated with the Philippine Embassy?

DOLE’s link to the rest of the world is the POLO. It is directly under the Secretary of Labor.

8. What is the best way to acquire OEC from Polo?

To acquire your OEC from POLO, you must go to the Philippine Consulate on the scheduled date and time. You can also visit the POLO at the Philippine Embassy in the country where you are working. When you visit the POLO, remember to bring the appointment sheet with you.

9. How long does the OEC take to process?

After you submit your Phase 1 application, it will take one to two weeks for your OEC to be processed. You can work on completing your Phase 2 documentation while you wait.

Summary

The Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) arm to the rest of the world is the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO). POLO reports directly to the Secretary of Labor’s office. It serves as DOLE’s operational arm, administering and enforcing its policies and initiatives that affect Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).

The POLO is led by a Labor Attaché, who is in charge of the labor force, which includes an Assistant Labor Attachment, Welfare Officers, Administrative Assistants, Staff Workers, and locally hired personnel.

POLO provides OFWs with social benefits, education scholarship and training benefits, welfare programs, reintegration programs, and repatriation assistance benefits.

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