A Primer: Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)
Established in 1977, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is an agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) of the Philippines. Its mandate is focused on ensuring the welfare of OFWs and their families. OWWA provides social security, cultural services and help with employment, remittances, and legal matters – from migration to reintegration.
As a membership institution it is funded thru the obligatory annual contribution from OFWs and their employers. To date, OWWA has offices in 27 countries worldwide.
If you are an OFW, it is your right and responsibility to acquire an OWWA membership, not just for yourself but for your next-of-kin. Below is a short primer on OWWA’s programs and services, as well as the steps you need to take to become a member.
What are the programs and services of OWWA?
These are accident and life insurance benefits for OFW members during the duration of their contract (per contract basis, with a maximum of two years per contract). Only active OWWA members are qualified.
|Type of Social Benefit||Compensation||Requirement|
|Disability and Dismemberment Benefits.||₱100,000.00 for injuries sustained (due to accident) while working abroad.||
medical examination procedure. (e.g. X-ray, MRI, CT Scan)
|Death Benefit||The family will receive:
On top of ₱20,000.00 for funeral expenses.
Education and training assistance
These programs are meant to provide OFWs and their beneficiaries with the education and training that they would need from pre-departure to their return back home after completing their contracts.
Pre-departure Education Program:
These are meant to provide OFWs with the means to cope with their new work environment especially during their first few months of working abroad.
|Program||How Many Days?||Who is Eligible?|
|Country Specific Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS)||1 day||All workers (all skills)|
|Comprehensive Pre-Departure Education Program (CPDEP)||4-6 days||Household Service Workers (HSWs)|
Seafarer’s Upgrading Program (SUP)
The program intends to provide job-related training in upgrading the knowledge, skills and develop expertise among Filipino seafarers in accordance with the technological advancements and global maritime standards. It is in the form of financial assistance with OWWA assuming the training cost as prescribed in the existing implementing guidelines.
The applicant may choose his/her preferred training course accredited by Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) or Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) from the list of OWWA recognized Training Providers where he/she intends to enrol. Training assistance is worth ₱7,500.00.
Seafarers with valid OWWA membership contribution at the time of application shall be entitled to avail of SUP under any of the following condition:
|Condition||When to file?||Documents Needed|
|First time Availment: Single OWWA membership contribution||Must be filed within 90 days from the date of last arrival to the Philippines/on vacation or following the expiration of OFWs employment contract||
|Subsequent Availment: every three (3) recorded payments of OWWA membership contribution|
Scholarships for dependents
A scholarship grant offered to qualified beneficiaries/dependents of active OWWA members in a form of financial assistance. A dependent will be qualified for this program if they meet the following criteria:
- The scholarship grant is only provided once per family of an active OWWA member.
- The dependent applicant must not be a recipient of any other scholarship grants.
- The dependent-applicant has not previously taken the EDSP qualifying examination and any post-secondary/vocational or undergraduate/college units.
If they meet the criteria above, they’ll be able to avail any of the following scholarships below.
|Type of Scholarship||Education Program||Maximum Amount per school year||Requirements|
|Education for Development Scholarship Program (EDSP)||4-5 year baccalaureate course in any preferred colleges/universities.||₱60,000.00||1. The member-OFW must have an active membership with OWWA at the time of the application.
2. The dependent-applicant must not be more than 21 years of age.
3. The dependent-applicant must have an average grade of at least 80% and belongs to the upper 20% of the 3rd year/high school graduating class.
4. The dependent-applicant must pass the qualifying examination conducted by DOST and belongs to the top 200 examination passers
5. The dependent-applicant must pass the College Admission Test of the university he/she intends to enrol to
|OFW Dependent Scholarship Program (OFWDSP)||4-5 year baccalaureate course in any preferred colleges/universities.||₱20,000.00||1. Legal dependents of an active OWWA member-OFW whose monthly salary is US$400 or below.
2. Legal dependent refers to only 1 child of married or single or only 1 sibling of member-OFW.
3. Qualified legal dependent must be single and not more than 21 years old.
4. He/she must be a high school graduate, physically, mentally and morally fit.
5. He/she must pass the entrance examination conducted by state college/university in OWWA Regional Offices where she intends to enrol to.
6. The dependent-applicant must not be a recipient of any other scholarship grants.
Training program for OFWs and their dependents.
It is in the form of training assistance with OWWA assuming the training cost in vocational/technical courses accredited by TESDA and other government institutions as prescribed in the existing implementing guidelines.
|Skills-for-Employment –Scholarship Program (SESP)||Financial assistance is ₱14,500.00. The applicant may choose his/her preferred training course from the list of OWWA recognized Training Providers where he/she intends to enrol. Eligible to avail are member OFWs and beneficiaries.||An active OWWA member or a dependent/beneficiary of an active OWWA member. Member-OFW dependent/beneficiary shall be limited to :
||1. Important documentary requirements include proof of OWWA membership for member, and proof of relationship to OFW-member, if dependent/beneficiary.
2. One (1) OWWA Membership contribution is applicable to one (1) SESP benefit; succeeding availment needs three (3) additional membership contributions.
|Information Technology (IT) Training Program||This computer literacy program provides OFWs and their families training and access to technology intended to bridge the communication gap between the OFW and his/her family and allow them to communicate with each other through the internet. The program also aims to upgrade their IT skills.||Open to ALL members and their dependents/beneficiaries|
Workers Welfare Assistance Program
This program shall ensure the welfare of OFWs in their respective job sites; the means to get back to the country for unforeseen events; as well as assistance to them and their families if the need arises back home.
On-site Assistance and Services
This type of assistance is extended to OFWs at their job sites by the Philippine Overseas Labor Officials, which includes:
- Assistance on OFW’s whereabouts
- Psycho-social counselling
- Mediation/conciliation with employer
- Airport assistance
- Hospital/prison/work camp visitations
- Legal assistance to OFWs who wish to pursue labor/welfare case against their employer in the host country
Assistance extended to OFWs/families here at the home front, as well as requests from families and next-of-kins (NOKs) for assistance from OWWA overseas posts
Type of assistance
|Assistance to OFWs/families.||Requests from families and next-of-kins (NOKs) for assistance from OWWA overseas posts|
Social services and family welfare services
These programs shall provide the means to repatriate OFWs in distressed situations as well as the means to jump start their lives back home if they do not wish to go back to their overseas job sites.
Repatriation Assistance Program
The program provides services including negotiations with employers, agents and host country authorities to facilitate the immediate repatriation of OFWs who are distressed or physically/mentally ill, and of human remains.
||OFWs, regardless of their OWWA membership can avail of the Repatriation Program|
Reintegration (in-country). Offers livelihood opportunities to OFWs who have finished contracts and have no wish to go back to work abroad. This will allow them to pursue self-employment or livelihood project as a means of generating income for their families after their overseas employment is done.
What are the available Reintegration Programs?
Balik-Pinas! Balik-Hanapbuhay! Program
- This is a non-cash livelihood support/assistance intended to provide immediate relief to returning member OFWs, active or non-active who were displaced from their jobs due to war/political conflicts in host countries or policy reforms, controls, and changes by the host government or are victims of illegal recruitment and/or human trafficking or other distressful situations. The program is
|Assistance Provided||Inclusion||Eligible Beneficiaries|
|A package of livelihood assistance amounting to ₱10,000.00.||1. Techno-skills and/or entrepreneurial trainings
2. Starter kits/goods and/or
3. Such other services that will enable the target beneficiaries to start a livelihood undertaking through self/wage employment.
|1. OWWA members, active or non-active. OWWA members with finished employment contracts are not entitled to this Program.
2. The program can be availed only once by eligible beneficiaries and within one year after return to the country.
Overseas Filipino Workers – Enterprise Development and Loan Program (OFW-EDLP)
OFW-EDLP, formerly known as OFW-Reintegration Program (ORP), an enterprise development intervention and loan facility of OWWA, in partnership with Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). The program intends to support enterprise development among OFWs and their families.
|Interest Rate:||7.5% per annum for the entire duration of the loan|
|Loan Purpose:||Working Capital and Fixed Asset Acquisition|
|Project Cost-Sharing:||Borrower’s Equity: minimum of 20% of the Total Project Cost (TPC)|
|Loan Amount:||The loan amount shall depend on project needs and amount of equity participation of the borrower:
For Individual Loan Borrowers (single proprietorship)
For Group Loan Borrowers (partnerships, corporations, cooperatives)
- Short-Term- max of one (1) year;
- Term Loan: based on cash flow but not to exceed 7 years, inclusive of maximum of 2 years grace period.
How to be a member?
The OWWA is a membership institution. As such, its programs, projects and services are geared towards safeguarding and promoting the welfare and interests of its members. For a processing fee of ₱100.00 and a US$25.00 membership contribution per contract, an OWWA member is entitled to the various benefits and services mentioned above.
Membership in OWWA may be obtained in two ways:
By enrolment upon processing of contract at the POEA; and
By voluntary registration of a would-be member at job sites overseas.
Proof of membership
Members are issued an Official Receipt upon payment of contribution. They shall likewise be issued an OWWA e-Card.
Effectivity of membership
OWWA membership, either through the compulsory or voluntary coverages, shall be effective upon payment of membership contribution, until expiration of their employment contract.
In case of voluntary members who register on-site, membership shall not exceed two (2) years.
Renewal of membership
Membership shall be renewed upon payment of contribution on contract renewal / issuance of new contract. In the case of voluntary membership, coverage shall be renewed upon payment of contribution.
Being an OWWA member provides OFWs with privileges that they should take advantage of. For a small membership fee, OWWA members are entitled to benefit plans that include insurance, healthcare benefits, education and training programs, livelihood support bridging program, and a livelihood development program. More than that, OWWA protects the rights of every one of their members and provides a guarantee that the sacrifices that they would have to make while working abroad are worth it.