By Mayen Jaymalin
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is likely to temporarily halt the collection of Social Security System (SSS) premiums from departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
After sectoral consultation, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) recommended to DOLE the suspension of the collection of SSS premiums.
Contrary to the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the new SSS Law, the POEA said it has no authority to collect SSS premiums.
According to POEA administrator Bernardo Olalia, members of the agency’s governing board reached a consensus that collection of SSS contributions must not be tied to the issuance of the required overseas employment certificate (OEC).
“Tying up the payment of SSS premium to the issuance of the OEC is an ultra vires act, or beyond the authority of the agency,” Olalia said in a memorandum to DOLE.
“The POEA should not be a collecting agent of SSS. It is not the mandate of the POEA to collect SSS contributions, as such is mandated to SSS,” Olalia added.
While the POEA supported compulsory SSS coverage of OFWs, Olalia said it should be done through bilateral labor agreements and other measures of enforcement.
The POEA chief further stressed that SSS contributions should be collected after the OFW’s deployment when the OFW is already earning.
Olalia noted that the SSS premium cannot be collected prior to deployment since the source of the contribution should be the salary earned.
The POEA further called for the convening of the joint committee of the DOLE, SSS and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to review certain provisions of the IRR of the new SSS law.
“The bone of contention is the incoherence of the provisions that newly hired OFWs shall pay one monthly contribution and for re-hires, three monthly contributions,” POEA noted.
Under the new law, newly hired OFWs are required to pay in advance P960 per month SSS premium, while returning workers will pay three-month contributions amounting to P2,880 or they will not be issued the mandatory OECs.
POEA said that while the review is being undertaken, implementation of such provision should be suspended. – MSN