Several of our fellow Filipinos end up being victimized by unscrupulous illegal recruiters. Thus, instead of landing a dream job abroad and earning dollars, they find themselves not being able to leave the country despite spending hard earned money to pay the illegal recruiters, or worse, some OFWs become TNT or “tago ng tago” for having invalid working permits or visas.
For these reasons, it is therefore important to learn what constitutes illegal recruitment so that you will be able to avoid being counted as a part of the growing numbers of Filipinos duped by illegal recruiters.
What is illegal recruitment?
When committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority:
- any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, procuring workers, and includes, referring, contact services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not and the employment abroad is offered for fee to two or more persons
When committed by any person, whether non-licensee, non-holder, licensee or holder of authority
- Charging an amount greater than that allowed by the Secretary of DOLE or making a worker pay a loan greater in amount than that received by him. For example if the Sec of DOLE allows recruiters to charge Php100 for a certain task, the recruiter can’t charge Php200 because that would be deemed as illegal recruitment.
- Provide or publish any false information regarding recruitment. Thus if the recruiter says that the job is for a flight stewardess and it was eventually found out that the actual job is for a GRO, then this will be deemed as false information in relation to recruitment and such act will be considered as illegal recruitment under the RA 8042.
- To give any false information or document, or performs an act of misrepresentation for the purpose of securing a license or authority. For example if a recruiter stated that he/she has not been previously charged with a criminal case or that there is no pending case against him/her for the purpose of getting a license, then he/she will be deemed as to have committed illegal recruitment.
- To induce a worker already employed to transfer to quit his current employment in order to offer him to another except when this is done to liberate a worker from oppressive terms and conditions of employment. For example if Juan asked Jane to quit her call center job to transfer to another BPO company, then that would be considered as illegal recruitment.
- To influence a person or entity not to hire a person who did not apply through his employment agency. Thus, if Pedro said to ABC Company that they should not hire Maria for her failure to use the services of Pedro’s employment agency, then that act would be considered as illegal recruitment.
- To engage in recruitment of workers in jobs harmful to the public health or to the morality of the dignity of the Philippines. For example, if Berto is engaged in hiring young provincial ladies to work as prostitutes in the Middle East, then this will be deemed as illegal recruitment because the employment is harmful to the dignity of the Philippines.
- To obstruct inspection by the Secretary of DOLE or his duly authorized representative.
- To fail to submit reports on the status of employment, placement vacancies, remittances of foreign exchange earnings, separations from jobs, departures or such other matters as may be required by the Secretary of DOLE.
- To substitute or alter to the prejudice of worker, employment contracts approved and verified by the DOLE, when it is done without the approval of the latter.
- For an officer or agent of a recruitment or a placement agency to be an officer or member of the Board of Directors of a company involved in the travel agency business or to engage directly or indirectly in a the management of a travel agency.
- To withhold or deny travel documents of a worker before departure for monetary reasons other than those allowed by the Labor Code or its implementing rules and regulations.
- Failure to deploy without valid reasons as determined by the DOLE. Thus, if XYZ recruitment agency fails to deploy Ana to Japan without any valid reason, then XYZ will be deemed to have committed illegal recruitment.
- Failure to reimburse the workers in connection with his documentation and processing for purposes of deployment in cases when the deployment did not push trough.
When is illegal recruitment deemed committed by a syndicate?
It is deemed committed by a syndicate when committed by three (3) or more persons.
When is illegal recruitment deemed committed in large scale?
It is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group.
When is illegal recruitment deemed an economic sabotage?
It is deemed as an economic sabotage when committed by a syndicate or in large scale as defined above.
What are the penalties for illegal recruitment?
When NOT considered as an economic sabotage:
- imprisonment of not less than 6 years and 1 day but not more than 12 years and a fine of not less than Php200,000 nor more than Php500,000
When considered as an economic sabotage:
- life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Php500,000 but shall not be more than Php1,000,000.
When is the maximum penalty imposed?
- when the person illegally recruited is less than 18 years of age or committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority