Philippines Taiwan

Philippines - Taiwan: Migration policy

The Philippines migration policy reflects its position as a provider of labour to wealthier states around the world, notably in the Middle East. Domestic poverty, underemployment and competition with other labour-sending states provide the social, economic and political context to the evolution of its migration policies. Although never explicitly stated, it is clear that it is government policy to continue to use private recruitment agencies to facilitate the overwhelming majority of its emigration. There is a clear tension between policies that on the one hand promote the overseas deployment of its nationals, and on the other hand seek to enhance their protection. The state’s economic dependence on remittances and the fact that more than half of its overseas workers are employed in states where protection is demonstrably weak and falls short of the Philippines’ own legal requirements suggests this tension will not be resolved any time soon. Nonetheless, the Philippines has consistently sought to increase protection through progressive policies and has done so with a gender-sensitive approach that has gone beyond bans on deployment and has addressed the specific vulnerabilities of its overseas domestic workers.

Taiwan’s migration policy reflects its rapidly ageing population, for whom care workers are required, and its efforts to support its manufacturing sector with a reliable low-cost labour force. It has sought to balance economic imperatives with the principle of safeguarding jobs for Taiwan nationals, while at the same time seeking to convince the Taiwanese population of the economic benefits of migration. Although it has had government to government recruitment schemes in place for more than two decades, and it declares its policy is to offer Taiwanese employers choice in how they recruit, the recruitment of foreign nationals is overwhelmingly dominated by its private recruitment agencies, in large part because of the practical difficulties associated with these direct hiring models. Taiwanese scholars have offered strong and persuasive criticism of a lack of gender-sensitivity in policies aimed at its migrant workforce, with domestic workers excluded from the protection offered by the labour law. The Taiwanese authorities have adopted a “prohibition in principle, approval under exception” approach to job mobility. According to Ministry of Labour data, 93% of migrant worker job transfer applications are approved. There are clear legal restrictions on job mobility and recruitment agents and employers often conspire to prevent workers from leaving their jobs even when they have a right to do so. Serious obstacles remain for migrant workers who want to change employers, but Taiwan has been relatively successful in providing a degree of job mobility to its foreign workers.

Recommendations to the Philippine government:

  • Work with its government partners in Taiwan to encourage more Taiwan-based companies to use the Special Hiring Program for Taiwan.
  • Conduct a feasibility study into the viability of upscaling the government’s capacity to recruit workers directly and of replicating the Special Hiring Program for Taiwan in other countries that employ significant numbers of Filipino workers.
  • Conduct and publish an independent and detailed review of Philippine migration policy that will provide a fact-based analysis of the extent to which migrant worker welfare is prioritised over the country’s economic development.

Recommendations to the Government of Taiwan:

  • Remove all legal restrictions on workers changing employers before the ends of their contracts.
  • Conduct a formal, independent review of Taiwan’s national migration policy in relation to its foreign workforce. The review should solicit views from a wide range of stakeholders and should address issues including gender-sensitivity, the impact of foreign workers’ job mobility, the current complexity of the direct hiring process, and the potential and feasibility of increasing the rate of workers hired via direct hiring or government to government recruitment models.
  • Provide Taiwan’s International Review Committee, composed of international human rights experts, with a detailed assessment of Taiwan’s treatment of its foreign workers in its next self-review process, with a view to soliciting authoritative and expert recommendations on how to ensure that Taiwan’s migration policy is consistent with the international human rights treaties it has made part of its domestic law.