Balik Manggagawa, which translates to “returning worker” in English, is a term used in the Philippines to refer to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are going back to their previous jobs abroad after a temporary stay or vacation in the Philippines. These workers have existing employment contracts and are returning to the same employer and job site as indicated in their Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) records.
With more Filipinos working in the Philippines by providing online services to employers abroad, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (now called the Department of Migrant Workers) recently clarified who can avail of the Balik Manggagawa OEC issuance. Online workers in the country who want to leave and pursue their jobs overseas cannot be issued an OEC for returning workers.
If you’re applying for an overseas employment certificate for Balik Manggagawa for the first time, the processing center will not allow you to get one. The POEA has an explanation for this and it’s important to know what you should do instead. In this article, we are going to define what a returning worker or Balik Manggagawa really is.
What is a Balik Manggagawa?
A Balik Manggagawa is an overseas Filipino worker serving or who has served his contract and will return to the same company in the same country, working again with the same employer on the same site, or returning to the same job site and employer and with POEA record under the deployed workers database.
Returning OFWs are usually those vacationing in the country and will eventually leave to work again overseas. You are considered a Balik Manggagawa if you’re an OFW who will be returning abroad in order to continue, extend, or complete your contract with a different or the same job site and employer abroad.
The Department of Migrant Workers explained that first-time overseas Filipino workers do not qualify as Balik Manggagawa. Specifically, the following are the factors to be considered as a returning OFW:
- Documented Balik Manggagawa with a new employer in the same host country.
- Balik Manggagawa or returning OFW with POEA record.
- Documented returning OFW with a new job site in a different host country.
- Documented returning OFW with the same employer or company in the same country, but with a new job.
- Undocumented returning OFWs without POEA records or registration in the POLO database such as exchange program participants, tourists, au pairs, and former students.
However, Filipino workers will not be considered Balik Manggagawa if they haven’t been deployed for overseas employment, such as online workers in the Philippines who work for companies abroad. In addition, you’re not a Balik Manggagawa if the DMW has not processed your papers even if you’ve already started working with a foreign employer via work-from-home setup or online platforms.
Furthermore, these online workers may process their employment contracts as new hires instead. This is according to the 2016 Revised POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land Based Overseas Filipino Workers. Technically, a migrant worker or OFW is “a person who is to be engaged, is engaged, or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State or country of which the worker is not a citizen”.
Where to Obtain Balik Manggagawa OEC
Both Balik Manggagawa and first-time OFWs should get their OECs from any POLO or POEA/DMW offices before leaving the country to work overseas. Compared to first-time OFWs, Balik Manggagawa or returning workers have an advantage when processing their OEC.
For instance, they can enjoy the OEC exemption when returning to the same overseas employer or job site; given they have a record with the POEA/DMW database. This means they can process their OECs online via the POPS-BaM portal. What’s more, is that they are exempted from paying OEC processing fees.
On the other hand, not all BM workers can get exempted despite meeting the qualifications. Watchlisted workers, for example, or those who are employed by watchlisted employers, or returning to work in restricted countries do not qualify for this exemption.
If you’re a BM worker who does not qualify for an OEC exemption, you can apply at the POLO office in your host country, at the POEA or DMW office in the Philippines. Make sure to book your appointment and pay the fee to secure a slot before visiting the office and get your exit clearance immediately.
What is the Balik Manggagawa Program?
The Balik Manggagawa program aims to simplify and expedite the process for OFWs by providing an online processing system to secure an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) e-receipt or an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) exemption number. This eliminates the need for returning workers to visit a POEA office to obtain their OECs, which serve as exit clearances and proof of being a legitimate OFW.
To avail of the Balik Manggagawa services, OFWs must meet certain requirements, such as having a valid work visa or work permit, and their employment must be documented by POEA or the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).
Requirements for BM OEC
OFWs who want to process their Balik Manggagawa OEC need to secure these documentary requirements. For exempted BM workers, they must have the following required documents:
- New users should have an active email address when registering for an account via the POPS-BaM portal.
- Complete profile for the DMW E-registration account including passport photo, passport information, profile image, beneficiary information, and Pag-IBIG MID data.
To apply for an OEC for BM workers at the POEA, DMW, or POLO office, make sure to secure the following:
- Duly accomplished BM Information Sheet.
- Valid work permit or visa, or equivalent document.
- Valid passport with six months validity.
- POPS-BaM appointment form.
- POLO-verified Employment Contract.
- Valid Employment Pass with re-entry visa.
- Proof of OWWA membership including certificate of coverage and official receipt.
- Confirmed two-way airline ticket, or an itinerary issued by an accredited travel agency.
- Letter from the employer that confirms the BM worker’s transfer to a new job site, or a sworn statement that describes how the BM worker applied and landed the job, whichever is applicable.
- Other important documents include the latest payslip, employment certificate, or company ID.
Video: Paano Kumuha ng OEC Online 2023
In this video, you will learn how to obtain your BM OEC through an online appointment. This is for returning OFWs that either qualify or do not qualify for the OEC exemption. All the details are provided in each step to ensure the success of your application. There are also tips on how to register in the e-registration portal of the POEA.
Wrapping It Up
Balik Manggagawa workers are OFWs returning to either new or the same employer and job site. They have already worked abroad and are only visiting or taking a vacation in the Philippines. Basically, these BM workers are going back abroad to extend or complete their contract, hence they are different from first-time OFWs who are technically not considered as returning workers or Balik Manggagawa.