MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Saudi Arabia employers can not force Filipino workers to surrender their passports, warning that doing so is a violation of the Kingdom’s laws.
Manila made the statement in light of complaints from Filipino workers that their Saudi employers are requiring them to turn over their travel documents upon arrival.
“Under Saudi and Philippine laws, they (Filipino workers) have the right to keep and hold on to their Philippine passports while working in Saudi Arabia,” a DFA statement on Wednesday said.
“The Philippine passport is considered to be the property of the Republic of the Philippines and only the bearer has the right to keep it in his custody,” it added.
Companies and employers in Saudi Arabia who continue to keep their foreign workers’ passports, as a matter of practice and against the workers’ will, are violating Saudi law, specifically Council of Ministers Resolution No. 166, which states that “every employee has the right to keep his passport in his custody.”
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs likewise informed the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh this week that this rule remains in effect, adding that any Filipino worker whose passport has been kept by his or her employer can complain to the Ministry of Labor or the police.
Saudi has the highest concentration of Filipino workers in the Middle East. It hosts more than 1 million laborers from the Philippines, mostly employed in construction, health and service sectors.