OFWs Oppose Mandatory SSS Membership, Raise Concerns About Implementation

In February, the Philippine government announced new changes in the Social Security System (SSS). And while many sectors welcomed the new development, particularly the increase in maternity leave, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are protesting the mandatory membership the government agency is set to impose for all OFWs.

There was no consultation done with OFW groups before the Republic Act 11199 or “Social Security Act of 2018” was approved and made into law, claims Migrante International.

With the mandatory SSS contribution set at Php660 per month, the amount is certainly a burden for those who are first-time OFWs since they are supposed to pay the entire year contribution before leaving the country.

Photo credit: PhilStar – Business World Online

Unless this mandatory contribution and schedule is changed, the SSS membership will only add burden to many OFWs who barely have enough money to go abroad this first time around. It is a sad reality that many of these first-time OFWs still have to take a lot of loans and debts just to fulfill their dream of going abroad.

Photo credit: Flying Ketchup

Migrante Philippines Chairman Arman Hernando pointed out that the OFW is the one who has to shoulder the payment of the SSS contributions under the new law. This means that the employers are not required to pay the counterpart just like what local employers are doing. Thus, the burden lies entirely on the OFW.

Worst, OFWs will be forced to contribute P2,400 per month as long as the host country does not enter into a bilateral agreement that will obligate employers to remit their contributions,” Hernando added.

It can be argued, of course, that the money would eventually be for the OFW’s future but imposing the mandatory fee, especially on first-time OFWs, is ‘repressive’, said recruitment consultant and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani.

Photo credit: SSS

Susan Ople of Blas Ople Policy Center (BOPC) told Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd that first-time OFWs would certainly have a difficult time raising this amount, considering that he/she is not earning yet but had to pay a lot to find a job abroad.

These OFW groups are hoping there would still be amendments to the SSS law so that the membership and contribution will help OFWs instead of becoming yet another additional expense and burden…