What You Need to know about DOLE’s Assist WELL Program

With repatriation in the Middle East making the headlines recently once again, it’s important that we look into what the Philippine government is offering to assist our distressed kababayans who may not have planned for an immediate return back home just yet.

In this post, we will focus the spotlight on one of the Department of Labour and Employment’s (DOLE) programmes – the Assist WELL Programme for OFWs. Read on to know more and let your loved ones know about this program by sharing this post, so that they, too, can also explore their options when repatriation is inevitable.

Assist WELL DOLE for repatriated OFWs
Image Credit: DOLE.gov.ph

Here’s What You Need to Know About DOLE’s Assist WELL Programme

The Assist WELL Program is an OFW-centred package of reintegration assistance services which focus on four aspects: Welfare, Employment, Legal, and Livelihood (WELL) needs of repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as detailed by the POEA:

Watch this short video clip for an overview of the “Assist WELL” Program:

      1.            Welfare Assistance

Services shall cover the following:

  • Airport assistance: facilitating airport procedures and other necessary formalities from the tube to the exit gates of the airport. The assistance also includes distribution of information and materials regarding the Assist WELL Program.
  • Temporary Shelter or Accommodation: includes the provision of free food and accommodation at the OWWA hostel while awaiting for arranged travel services to home provinces.
  • Transport Assistance to Residence: transportation services offered to those residing within Metro Manila or bus fare to those living outside of Metro Manila.
  • Emergency Medical Assistance: providing medical referral to the airport clinic upon arrival as well as ambulance services where needed.
  • Stress Debriefing: providing counselling/debriefing sessions, especially to those who may have undergone traumatic experiences/events overseas.

      2.            Employment Assistance

Services shall cover the following:

  • Job placement/ referral for local employment: provision of assistance and support in finding local employment through applicable employment network services of the DOLE Regional Offices and Public Employment Service Offices.
  • Job placement/ referral for overseas employment: provision of assistance in finding employment overseas through referral and placement to government-authorized recruitment agencies where there are available job posts that match the skills and qualifications of the repatriated worker(s).
  • Competency assessment and certification: offered to repatriated OFWs who wish to confirm or seek certification for their competencies to apply for a preferred workplace. Skills training will also be provided where there is a gap in skills to match a job fit.

      3.            Legal Assistance

Services shall cover the following:

  • Legal Counsel and Advice: provision of counselling sessions regarding the worker’s rights and possible measures to take for settle grievances (as needed).
  • Facilitation of conciliation proceedings where repatriated workers and concerned recruitment agencies can discuss the possibility of amicable settlement
  • Counselling during preliminary investigation as well as for court hearings of criminal cases for illegal recruitment.
  • Assistance with the filing and other interdepartmental procedures concerning complaints for illegal recruitment, procedural violations, as well as disciplinary action cases.

      4.            Livelihood Assistance

Services shall cover the following:

  • Entrepreneurial Development Training: provision of training and information on financial awareness, self-preparation for entrepreneurial roles, as well as business planning and management.
  • Livelihood Skills Training: provision of skills training in the aspect of livelihood and operational management. This includes education and skills development for self-employment as well as the support of livelihood starter kits and merchandise.
  • Hands-on Business Monitoring and Support: extension of business development services such as consultation and counselling, productivity advice, as well as business networking support for expanding and sustaining business operations and growth.
  • Business Loan Assistance: Direct provision of available loan schemes as covered by the 2-billion reintegration program fund or access to referral services to authorized government lending affiliates.
poea repatriated ofws
Image Credit: POEA FB Page

 How are these Services Availed?

  1. After the concerned Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) or Philippine Embassy has received request for assistance on the repatriation of certain Filipino workers, the Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA) shall prepare the necessary documents for the specific group of workers in need of this assistance.
  2. Upon arrival at the airport, the OWWA shall offer the abovementioned services to the repatriated delegates.
  3. Reintegration services under the Assist WELL program shall be immediately rendered.
  4. The monitoring of such services, evaluation, and reporting shall be implemented by the respective DOLE agencies or offices.
  5. Information and data gathered for the implementation of the above services shall be maintained in the database managed by the National Reintegration Council for OFWs (NRCO) in coordination with other DOLE implementing agencies within a cost-sharing arrangement set by the government.

While repatriation is something that is not part of the end-goals of OFWs when seeking for employment abroad, improbable situations can still lead to such endings. But the good news is, the government is well aware of such situations and has prepared a viable assistance program beforehand to aid OFWs get through such challenging times as they come back home, possibly for good.

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