Abuse is not an old headline at all among overseas Filipino workers. Serious cases of employer’s abuse from the tale of Flor Contemplacion, to the executed Jakatia Pawa, to the most recent, Joanna Demafelis, the lady kept in a freezer, had marked ailing scars in our history and which had cast fear among aspiring OFWs.
The government has already imposed measures to protect OFWs abroad, even deployment ban to countries with ill regulations on expat workers. Abuse is everywhere, it can happen to anyone and anywhere, even to non- domestic jobs.
There will never be a perfect employer. Even those with flawless values can turn into their darkest and become abusive of their power as your superior. Foreign employers may tend to look down to their employees, especially to those countries who still values slavery in their culture or to those who look down at foreigners as merely second-class citizens.
Damage to an abusive employer doesn’t just include physical harm, this also includes psychological, emotional, and social damages. For workers abroad and aspiring OFWs, there is a way to detect if you are deployed to an employer who has a great chance to intimidate you.
Here are 10 common indicators of an abusive employer you should be cautious about before he beats you in whatever way he knows:
1. Obvious illegal abuse such as unwanted physical contact, inappropriate comments, and other treatment you know is prohibited by the law.
2. He happens to yell at you, may it be in front of others or behind closed doors, to degrade you and to undermine your confidence. He always makes you feel bad, worthless, and incapable of what you’re doing.
3. He collects your passport and visa and keeps it to somewhere out of your knowledge or access.
4. When he is too demanding with your work outputs. This is usually normal but if you think that you have done your best but still seen as not enough, he may just be being abusive.
5. When he speaks ill of people who are not present or even backstab you when you are not around.
6. When he limits you to talk with relatives or friends while even during break time. He may even collect your personal phone and he may limit you from going out. He may even forbid you from talking to anyone, that includes your co-workers, or he may tell everyone to stop socializing with you.
7. When he always checks on what you’re doing and monitors you every minute. He controls your time even your minute breaks.
8. He wants you to work on your rest day and often asks you to work overtime.
9. Invades your privacy. He may listen to your private conversations or even tamper on your personal matters.
10. Workplace stress is a reliable indicator too of how abuse affects your wellness.
If the abuse is still manageable, a finding published at the Journal of Applied Psychology had shown that acts of kindness towards them could lessen the chance of him becoming hard or rude to you. Showing them doses of compassion and empathy may diminish the risk of them hurting you.
However, if your employer went beyond the limits, one should be forward and precautious to whatever things may happen.
OFWs are advised to document incidences of abuse. Have every encounter recorded on your phone or if to no avail, in a notebook, with details on when and where it happens. You can back this up with a list of witnesses’ names if there’s any.
Have it reported to the nearest office of the embassy or any government-related affiliates. Have your family know your current situation and notify it to your respective recruitment agency. Keep important contact details on hand in case of emergency.
If the abuse could already be qualified as a criminal offense such as sexual harassment or discrimination, you can already seek legal help from the government to assist you in filing corresponding charges.
Quitting the job may be the hardest resort, considering the journey you’ve had to reach that opportunity overseas. However, abuse is something that you should never tolerate. You should never risk your health and safety to a job that just pays you well.