POEA assures protection of seafarers during pandemic

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board has issued the interim guidelines on the deployment and repatriation of Filipino seafarers to further ensure their protection and benefits during the national state emergency brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Governing Board Resolution No. 13, Series of 2020, the POEA emphasized the provision of assistance and benefits to seafarers under unfortunate situations in their deployment or repatriation due to COVID-19 related reasons.

The POEA board is chaired by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

In the resolution, a seafarer who already signed an employment contract but cannot be deployed from the point of hire due to COVID-19 related reasons shall be provided with accommodation and food at the principal/employer’s cost, unless provided by the government, until the seafarer is deployed or returned home, and even until the contract cancellation.

Also, a seafarer who was deployed but becomes stranded during his transit shall be paid basic pay, accommodation, food, and medical benefits at principal/employer’s cost until the seafarer joins the vessel.

Likewise, the principal/employer shall provide the same assistance and benefits to the seafarers who already signed a contract and deployed but unable to join the ship and is repatriated back home, as well as to the seafarers who cannot be repatriated for some COVID-19 related reasons.

Furthermore, seafarers who completed his period of contractual service onboard, and who is ashore but cannot be repatriated shall still be provided with basic pay, accommodation, food, and medical benefits.

The principal/employers of the seafarer shall also provide all the cost on the accommodation and food of the seafarer during his quarantine period, unless otherwise provided by the government.

Meanwhile, the principal/employers will be allowed to recover any associated cost on the said provision of assistance and benefits in accordance with the employment contract or the Collective Bargaining Agreement.