Brunei seeks exemption from HCW deployment cap


The Brunei government has requested for exemption from the Philippines’ current deployment cap on healthcare workers, according to the labor department.

In a virtual briefing on Friday, Labor Attache Melissa Mendizabal of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Brunei Darussalam said there is demand for around 200 nurses and 30 medical doctors in the country.

However, due to the deployment cap on healthcare workers, she said the Brunei government has requested for exemption initially in 2020 but did not materialize. Then another request was sent around July this year.

“There are two hospitals here, one government hospital and one private hospital. The salary is comparable to the salary of nurses in Singapore. Nurses receive high take-home pay because of the free accommodation and transportation. If they render overtime work, they earn as much as 2,000 Brunei Dollars per month,” said the Labor Attache, adding that there is a high turnover of nurses in the country.

Aside from opportunities in the healthcare sector, around a thousand jobs also await Filipino workers in the oil and gas and household service sectors.

“Prior to our current situation, we have processed job orders for domestic workers. On top of that are the nurses then those in the oil and gas industry. Most of the job orders that we have processed are in those sectors,” said Mendizabal.

Workers in the oil and gas sector, which comprise around 10 percent of the Filipino population in Brunei, receive higher salaries. Some receive wages ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 Brunei Dollars. Among these workers are engineers and architects.

“Those workers do not stay here. They go here for one month, three months, then they go back to the Philippines. It only changed when the pandemic started. Many Filipinos were not able to go back to the Philippines and stayed here in Brunei,” said the labor official.

She added that there is also demand for semi-skilled workers, such as car technicians of high-end vehicles.

“The Brunei government is trying to implement localization, meaning they want to employ the locals here. For example are the shop assistants. But when it comes to supervisory and managerial roles, they give these positions to our Filipino workers,” Mendizabal said, underscoring the employers’ preference for OFWs.

“Our kababayans will always be the first choice among migrant workers to work here. They prefer Filipino workers, and some employers are very proud of our OFWs because of their industry. At the moment, we are in semi lockdown, but once we go back to normal, almost all sectors want to hire our OFWs,” she added.

At present, there are around 20,000 OFWs in Brunei.