Know Your Rights: OFWs Must Keep Their Own Passports

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If you are currently employed (or are hoping to get employed abroad soon) as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), you should be aware not only about the customs and traditions in your host country but also about your rights as an employee.

Case in point, you should know that it is actually illegal for employers to get and keep your passport.

In the first place, passports are considered government property so keeping it is really against the law. If your employer does it, then you have every right to report him or her to the proper authorities.

In a GMA News post, we read:

“The Philippine passport is considered to be the property of the Republic of the Philippines and only the bearer has the right to keep it in his custody.”

Moreover, the website tells us:

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“A Philippine passport remains at all times the property of the Government, the holder being a mere possessor thereof as long as it is valid and the same may not be surrendered to any person or entity other than the government or its representative: Provided, That a Filipino citizen may voluntarily surrender his/her passport to a Philippine Service Post for storage and safekeeping for which a proper receipt shall be issued for use when reclaiming the passport at a later date.”

Many countries are actually supporting this.

For example, the Labor Ministry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly emphasized that foreign workers have the right to keep their passports and other important documents.

Meanwhile, Arabic daily Al Shashed tells us that “companies in Kuwait will no longer be allowed to withhold employees’ passports under new labor laws being written.”

In the past, we’ve heard different reports about some abusive employers who kept their Filipino employee’s passports.  It is your right to report your employer or sponsor if they ever violate this rule.

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