What is POLO? Philippine Overseas Labor Office

With the influx of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) working abroad, the Philippine government finds it imperative to show concern and extend its services to OFWs wherever they may be, with the help of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)—a special department that serves as the operational arm of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), created especially for overseas workers. 

As a government agency, POLO was created with the OFWs in mind. That said, the agency was designed to cater to the rights and needs of these people—from employment and documentary verification and support to regulation and protection of the workers. POLO is also the department in charge of developing human resources abroad and facilitating the safe and legal recruitment and employment of even more qualified Filipinos in 34 different countries abroad. To learn more about POLO, its purpose, functions, services, and responsibilities as an agency out to serve the Filipinos, keep reading this guide here:

What is POLO?

POLO stands for Philippine Overseas Labor Office. It is a government agency stationed abroad to extend the operations of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as well as its protection, assistance, and services of the Philippine government to the migrant Filipino workers in the different parts of the world. 

POLO is the primary agency in charge of enforcing the DOLE policies, initiatives, and programs for Filipinos abroad. It is led and managed by a Labor Attaché. Together with an Assistant Labor Attaché, Welfare Officers, Administrative Assistants, Staff Workers, and other locally hired personnel, POLO also manages the Migrant Workers and Other Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFWRC)—a temporary venue for POLO service delivery.

Since it launched, POLO has been staying true to its mandate to protect and serve OFWs. To carry out their purpose, POLO’s operations involve engaging and collaborating with relevant Philippine government agencies, the host government, Filipino communities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interests of all the Filipinos working abroad. The agency abides by the principles and provisions of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, too, and its implementing rules and guidelines is aligned with those of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the OWWA Omnibus Rules, and other issuances.

To date, there are at least 34 POLO in operation worldwide. At present, 11 of these offices are strategically located in Asia. There are also 13 POLO in the Middle East, 7 in Europe, and 3 in the Americas. 

Mission, Vision, and Core Functions and Responsibilities of POLO


As an agency, POLO’s mission has always been clear: To serve and protect the OFWs’ rights and welfare through collaborative partnerships with various stakeholders—including the Filipino communities and host countries.


Since it launched, POLO has always helped OFWs exercise their labor rights anywhere in the world. With POLO’s support, the OFWs are assured of safe, healthy, and productive DOLE service. 

Core Functions and Responsibilities

As an agency, POLO’s responsibilities to the Filipino people has always been as follows:

  • To serve as DOLE’s operating arm, enforcing lawfully enacted policies and programs according to international labor relations and in international settings
  • To assist OFWs with their contracts and other employment-related papers, to ensure that they are lawful and appropriate for their regions of assignment
  • To help implement the government’s foreign exchange remittance program for OFWs and their families benefits
  • To help establish diplomatic and friendly relationship with the host country.
  • To protect and promote the rights, welfare, and interests of OFWs 
  • To offer assistance to OFWs regarding any employer-employee relationship problems
  • To check and validate employment contracts and other employment-related documentation 
  • To monitor and report situations and policy development in the host country that may affect the Philippine labor policies, in general and the Filipino migrant workers in particular
  • To stay updated with any key labor-related developments, including political, cultural, social, and economic dimensions and policy innovations in the host country that may be pertinent to Philippine labor needs
  • To promote and defend the overall well-being of Filipino employees working abroad
  • To promote understanding and cooperation between the host government and the Philippines, as well as between Filipino workers and management in the country of assignment
  • To act as a representative of the POEA and as marketing agents for DOLE abroad
  • To ensure that OFWs get safe and equitable access to fair employment opportunities
  • To facilitate the recruitment and employment of qualified Filipinos in both the government and private sectors
  • To perform any additional duties as assigned by the SECRETARY or as required by law

Benefits of POLO to OFWs

Like the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) is yet another government office that is meant to help and support OFWs abroad. It’s mainly responsible for implementing DOLE’s programs, regulating OFW employment, and ensuring the OFWs’ welfare  abroad. 

Like other government agencies, POLO offers OFWs numerous benefits including:

Some specific POLO benefits that OFW families and beneficiaries can also enjoy include: 

  • Compulsory Insurance
  • Free Training Programs
  • Pag-lBlG
  • Financial Assistance

List of Programs and Services

In carrying out its mandate and protecting the rights and welfare of the OFWs, POLO offers the following programs and services:

Notable POLO Programs

Some of the most notable programs offered by POLO include:

Return to Work Program (RTWP)

The Return to Work Program (RTWP) is a program meant for OFWs who have been forced to return home. Under the program, displaced OFWs due to death of an immediate family member, medical reasons, physical abuse, and psychological stress get support in reintegrating back to the society, provided that they can get a POLO certification that they were indeed repatriated.

Financially Distressed OFWs Repatriation Program (FDORP)

Returning migrant Filipino workers who find it difficult to send money back home despite being employed abroad are entitled to receive assistance from POLO under the Financially Distressed OFWs Repatriation Program (FDORP). The program which started in 2014 is meant to help OFWs based in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Qatar overcome their financial troubles without compromising with the support intended for their families.

Post Arrival Orientation Seminar (PAOS)

The Post-Arrival Orientation Seminar (PAOS) is yet another POLO Program intended to support the wellbeing of OFWs. The program ensures that newly arrived OFWs are aware of everything they need to know about their host country, including its geography, population, history, culture, and traditions, as well as their rights and obligations. The program will also be useful in providing necessary information in the event that the OFW requires legal assistance. 

Welfare Office for Filipinos Overseas (WORO) Assistance

One of the existing POLO Programs is the Welfare Office for Filipinos Overseas (WORO) Assistance, an initiative intended to help distressed OFWs and their families and communities by offering access to education, health care, housing, and sustainable livelihoods.

The WORO Assistance offers help and support to OFWs in various ways, including financial assistance, repatriation arrangements, legal assistance related to employer-employee labor contracts and relations (WORO Legal Assistance), and emergency medical evacuation and medical assistance (WORO Medical Assistance).

Direct Hiring Program (DHP)

DOLE, via POLO, has created the Direct Hiring Program (DHP), a government-to-government initiative to increase employment prospects and improve the working circumstances for Filipinos in the Middle East to help Filipinos secure a consistent income. 

The program also gives OFWs approximately US$1,000 (or another currency equivalent depending on area), as well as a housing allowance, paid vacation days, paid sick leave, and end-of-service benefits.  Launched in 2008, DHP started with a labor cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), until it was broadened with agreements with Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

Special Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons/ Assistance-To-Nationals Program

This POLO program offers help to Filipino victims of human trafficking who may have been subjected to forced labor, sexual exploitation, or domestic servitude. Under the program, they get the support they need to come home to the Philippines and reintegrate properly so they may continue becoming productive members of the society. This program also offers the same support to OFWs who may have been forced to return home from other countries due to financial problems or some other difficulties.

Repatriation Assistance

OFWs also offer monetary assistance in the form of a repatriation grant, airline ticket, emergency assistance, and several other services to OFWs who are suffering abroad through no fault of their own.

Custodial Program

POLO’s Custodial Program is a specialized initiative meant to offer employment opportunities to Filipino nationals who are unable to find work abroad due to physical disability, advanced age, and other reasons. It also offers OFW families to continue earning a living even while their relatives are away.

Community Outreach

The POLO Community Outreach Program is a program meant to enhance collaborative relations between the government of the Philippines, overseas workers (OFWs), governments of host countries, and other stakeholders. It also hopes to raise knowledge about policies and address issues related to the wellbeing of OFWs abroad.

Case Management

POLO’s Case Management Program offer legal, financial, and social support to distressed OFWs and their families as well as to casualties to return home when faced with challenging circumstances.

Common Services Filipinos Avail in POLO office

Some of the most common services that OFWs can receive at the POLO office include the following:

Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) Issuance

The POLO Office is also in charge of the issuance of valid Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) or Balik Manggagawa Certificate (BMC)—a document issued to Filipinos who are seeking employment opportunities abroad or those workers who are going home for a vacation to the Philippines.

Employment/ Contract Verification

The Employment/ Contract Verification is yet another program meant to help OFWs determine whether a job offer is genuine or not by verification of employment papers, work visas, or any other essential documentation.

Mediation between Employee and Employer 

POLO offices also offer conflict resolution services for employees and employers to resolve their issues amicably.

Policy Advocacy and Labor Cooperation

POLO also has policy advocacy and labor cooperation initiatives and services to help promote the well-being of OFWs.

Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS) Online Accreditation 

The PEOS Online Accreditation Program, an online training program, is also yet another service offered by POLO Offices. The services start with passing the PEOS Online Accreditation Test. It is a prerequisite to apply for the pre-employment orientation course and is meant to equip working Filipino professionals with the required skills and information they need to do their jobs in other countries.

OWWA Membership

Application and renewal of OWWA membership is yet another thing that can be done at the POLO Office. OWWA Membership is a social service and a form of insurance for its member-beneficiaries so they can enjoy the welfare programs and protection, and advancement of the Philippine government.

Video: Visiting POLO Office in Hong Kong for Contract Renewal

If you aren’t aware of the POLO services yet, join Youtube vlogger Jamaica Ermitanio as she visits the POLO Office at the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong for her Contract Renewal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most common questions and answers related to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO):

1. What is POLO?

POLO is DOLE’s operational arm that extends its policies and services to the OFWs in the rest of the world. It reports directly to the Secretary of Labor’s office. 

2. What are the benefits of POLO?

As DOLE’s implementing arm, POLO offers various programs and services including social and financial benefits, education scholarship and training benefits, welfare programs, reintegration programs, and repatriation assistance benefits.

3. What is the purpose of POLO?

Like DOLE and other government agencies in the Philippines, POLO was created to support the Filipino people, only this time, it’s especially designed to support, protect, and promote the labor rights of OFWs.

4. Is there a difference between POLO and OWWA?

Yes. OWWA is a membership organization meant to delivering social benefits and programs primarily to its member OFWs, whereas POLO is primarily concerned with the implementation service delivery related to labor policies as the “overseas operating arm” of DOLE outside the Philippines.

5. How does the POLO help and protect OFWs?

In most cases, the POLO watches out for OFWs and ensures that they receive the benefits offered by DOLE’s on-site programs and services. It is also the prime agency meant to promote and safeguard OFWs’ rights and well-being through workers’ training, case management, custodial services, repatriation assistance, and other welfare assistance.

6. Is it possible to apply for multiple POLO programs and services?

Yes, it is possible to apply for multiple POLO programs and services so long as the program or services does not limit the availment to a single service or program.

7. Is POLO associated with the Philippine Embassy?

POLO is DOLE’s link to the rest of the world, and it is an attached agency reporting directly to the Labor Secretary.

8. What is the best way to acquire OEC from POLO?

Securing the OEC requires going to the POLO Office with the appointment slip at the host country’s Philippine Embassy or Consulate on the scheduled date and time. 

9. How long does the OEC take to process?

After submitting the Phase 1 application, it will take approximately one to two weeks for the OEC to be processed. That said, it is advised that OFWs work on completing the Phase 2 documentation while waiting for the process to complete.


The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) serves as the overseas operating arm of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE). As such, it is the office in charge of enforcing and implementing the policies and promoting the programs and initiatives of the agency, so it may reach the OFWs in the different parts of the world. 

As an agency, POLO offers the OFWs social benefits, education scholarship and training benefits, welfare programs, reintegration programs, and repatriation assistance benefits. It also links the Philippine government to the world, connecting OFWs with other government agencies like the Bureau of Immigration (BI), diplomatic missions, local government units (LGUs), and Migrant Workers And Overseas Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC).

Contact Information

For questions or concerns meant for POLO, it is best to search for the specific POLO Office in the host country where you work. 

To learn more about its programs and services, you may also contact DOLE via the following contact information:

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Office Address: Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Building, Muralla Wing cor. General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila, 1002, Philippines

Office Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (except holidays)

Telephone Number: 0285273559

Website: https://www.dole.gov.ph/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/laborandemployment

DOLE Contact Form: https://query.dole.gov.ph/queries/submit

DOLE Call Center Hotline Number: 1349

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