THE number of household service workers (HSWs) deployed overseas has declined by 20 percent in the first five months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Monday.

Citing the report of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Baldoz said number of new HSWs went down from 70,034 last year to only 55,961 as of May 2015.

Data also showed a drop in the number of new hires in countries known to favor Filipino domestic helpers.

In particular, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has hired only 20,949 HSWs so far compared to 26,570 in 2014; United Arab Emirates, which hired only 215 HSWs in 2015 compared to 13,440 in 2014; and Hong Kong, which received only 5,825 HSWs compared to 8,409 in 2014.

Baldoz said the drop in HSW hiring can be attributed to the stricter implementation of policies concerning HSW protection.

“The strict approval of HSW job orders that have been in place since the beginning of the year must have contributed to the decline in HSW deployment,” said the labor chief.

Baldoz cited the protective measures for HSW hiring such as having a standard employment contract that provides minimum wage of $400 per month, the no placement fee policy, and mandatory training.

The Dole chief also noted the effect of the government’s efforts to sway HSWs to step out of home-based occupations.

“It could be the effect of the measures in the package to really move our HSWs from home-based occupations to occupations that not only pay good salaries and benefits, but also guarantee their protection,” she said.

Baldoz said on-site skills assessment and certification allows HSWs to upgrade their skills and consider the option of taking up occupations with higher pay outside of their domestic work. (HDT/Sunnex)