The First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act
On 10 April 2019, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte approved Republic Act (R.A.) No. 11261, otherwise known as the First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act. This law aims to promote full employment and equality of gainful work and opportunities for Filipino citizens by expanding accessibility to government services on the one hand and providing incentives to improve access to employment on the other. In this pursuit, all government agencies and instrumentalities including government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), local government units (LGUs), and government hospitals shall not collect fees or charges from a first time jobseeker, provided this fee or charge is in connection with the application for and the granting of licenses, proofs of identification, clearances, certificates, or other documents required for employment.
The benefits of this law are available to first time jobseekers only. The term “first time jobseekers” is defined as “a Filipino citizen, who is actively seeking employment, locally or abroad, for the first time, as certified by the barangay of which he/she is a resident.” The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) further characterize a first time jobseeker as those:
- Graduates from all schools, colleges, and universities, and learning institutions offering technical-vocational courses.
For purposes of this Rule, a graduate is a Filipino who finished an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree from any college or university, or completed a technical-vocational course from any learning institution in the Philippines, as well as high school graduates who have completed the K-12 program;
- An early school leaver or out of school youth (OSY);
- A person not employed or engaged in education or training, who was not previously enrolled in any educational institution or who has not finished secondary education;
- A student taking a leave of absence from an institution offering college or tertiary education or from a technical-vocational course; or
- Any person intending to work while enrolled in any school, college, university, or learning institution offering technical and vocational courses.
The IRR further zeroes in on the persons eligible to avail of the provisions of this law. In particular, the applicant should be (1) a Filipino citizen, (2) a first time jobseeker, (3) actively looking for employment, and (4) a resident of the barangay issuing the barangay certification for at least 6 months. The barangay certification mentioned is actually a document required to prove one’s eligibility to avail of the benefits of this act.
It is provided, however, that the provisions of this law do not extend to persons who are already beneficiaries under the Jobstart Program under RA No. 10869, as well as those who are beneficiaries of other laws giving payment exemptions for the documents or transactions enumerated above.
What the law covers are those documentary requirements issued by the government that may be required by employers from job applicants, such as: police clearance certificate, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance, barangay clearance, medical certificate, birth certificate, marriage certificate, transcript of academic records issued by state colleges and universities, tax identification number (TIN), and unified multi-purpose ID (UMID) card. However, it is specifically stated that some documents collected in connection with specific applications are not within the ambit of this law—to wit, an application to take a professional licensure examination, an application for a Philippine passport authentication and red ribbon documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), application for a Career Service Examination with the Civil Service Commission (CSC), and an application for a driver’s license from the Land Transportation Office (LTO). Thus, the government can still collect fees and charges from persons obtaining documents for the above-mentioned purposes.
For smoother implementation of this program, the government agencies concerned are mandated to maintain and update a roster of all individuals who have been issued documents free of charge under this act, which roster shall be regularly submitted to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). The DICT in turn is required to compile a database which should be readily accessible to all relevant agencies. Besides the database, the act also creates an interagency committee composed of the Secretary of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as chairperson and the heads of the CSC, DICT, Deparmtnet of Finance (DoF), Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), National Youth Commission (NYC), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) as members. Further, each relevant government agency is tasked to take specific steps for a more effective implementation of this law.
Persons who are found guilty of fabrication or falsification shall be liable under the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Disputes arising from the implementation of this act may be brought to the attention of the Head of the agency concerned via a complaint filed by the first time jobseeker. Finally, it is provided that in all cases, ambiguities in the interpretation of the provisions shall be interpreted in favor of the applicant or the first time jobseeker.
 Republic Act No. 11261, Section 2; Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 1
 Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 3
 Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 2
 Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 4
 Republic Act No. 11261, Section 5
 Republic Act No. 11261, Section 10; Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 12
 Republic Act No. 11261, Section 8; Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 10
 Republic Act No. 11261, Section 6; Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 9
 Republic Act No. 11261, Section 12; Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 6
 Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 5
 Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 15
 Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 14
 Republic Act No. 11261, Section 11; Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, Section 13