Updated 2 weeks ago

The Philippines is among Asia's premier labour markets. Many aspiring expats are choosing Manila as their ideal foreign destination to live and work in, for several great reasons. The economy is growing and is expected to keep on thriving in the coming years.

An insight into the local labour market

Foreign investors have been taking an interest in the area, especially with the pool of well equipped English speaking locals, which can help their businesses succeed in Asia. The average English proficiency of adults in the Philippines is among the highest in Asia. English is the primary medium of instruction in academic institutions, government offices and corporate settings. This makes the Philippines the world’s third-largest English-speaking country. With the highly skilled and productive workforce, the Philippines has become one of the most attractive destinations for businesses expanding in Southeast Asia

The Philippines is a newly industrialised nation, and with this, the economy has transitioned from being focused on agriculture to being based more on services and manufacturing. But what are the fields that most expats would be most likely to consider?

Most expatriates coming to Manila have already pre-arranged a job from their country of origin. This situation most likely happens to expats connected with multinational companies. Like other countries, this is the most straightforward approach as your company would be the one to sponsor your working permit. If you are in a position to be job hunting within the country, this might prove challenging as companies might give precedence to locals over foreigners and would only keep this option if they can’t find a local to fill the role

Priority is deemed to be given to any able-bodied Filipinos over foreigners unless the expat has a desirable skill fit for the job requirements. But expats who don’t have employment before entering the country are free to work as long as the necessary working permit has been secured. You will be required to secure an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) from the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) before you can legally work in the country.

Work conditions in Manila

The next after landing a job in Manila is understanding and equipping yourself with the necessary knowledge about the local labour laws to protect your foreign worker’s rights. In the Philippines, in general, employees work for approximately eight hours a day, totalling 40 hours a week. Employees usually have two rest days, which are commonly Saturdays to Sundays. An additional 30% based on the employee’s hourly rate is added for any excess working hours beyond eight hours.

Five paid leaves are also included per year once you have rendered a full one year of service in the company. The Philippines has a total of eighteen national holidays each year and any employee who works on a holiday is entitled to receive double the amount of their regular hourly rate.

Promising fields for expats in Manila

There are quite a few options for expats wanting to work in Manila. Popular job markets for expats are as English language teachers and at call centres or Business Process Outsourcing Centers (BPOs). You can obtain work as a call centre agent and make 20,000 to 40,000 pesos per month, but competition will still be stiff against Filipinos who have the same qualifications as you do. There is an option for BPOs hiring call centre agents for using languages other than English, like Japanese, French, German etc. This pays double to triple the standard rate, which is much closer to a western salary range.

You can also consider working for foreign companies, or international NGOs focusing on research, foreign service and development work. As a rule, salaries increase in the Philippines in line with economic growth. The key to finding legitimate work is research, networking and lots of perseverance.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.