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Pinay pub manager, owner agree to drop claims against each other

08 April 2017

A dismissed Filipina pub manager went to the Labour Tribunal on Mar 17 seeking more than $25,000 in unpaid wages, severance pay and wages in lieu of notice against the successive operators of a Wanchai pub where she had worked.

Susana Pariñas lodged her claim against Mad Dogs Wanchai Public House Ltd and Plan Two Ltd, which both filed a counterclaim. The two companies owned in succession the Spicy Fingers bar where Pariñas was manager from May 15, 2013 to July 28, 2016.

But Pariñas withdrew her case after a Ms Burnett, her former employer, told presiding officer Mary Wu that she had records to prove the Filipina owed 66 days of overtaken annual leave for going on holiday for 95 days during her barely three and a half years of working for both firms.

Pariñas said that when Mad Dogs’ lease on the Wanchai site ran out, she was transferred on Aug 1, 2015 to another site operated by Plan Two, as Burnett was a common director at both Mad Dogs and Plan Two.

The Filipina manager said around September, the new owner, a certain Jessica, talked to her and allegedly told her some staff would be retained, including her, so she signed a new contract.  The takeover came on Oct 21 last year.

“At first I agreed but I told her I have some suggestions to make about managing the bar, but if she refused to accept my suggestions, I won’t accept managing it,” Pariñas said.

She was on a holiday in Phuket, Thailand, when the firm told her to return in two days or they would fire her.

Burnett told the court Pariñas went on a holiday without approval, saying she did not approve the leave application on Oct 5 because of company policy for staff not to go on vacation in October.
Pariñas said she sent another holiday application three days later but Burnett again rejected it by way of a letter.

When the Filipina returned from Phuket on Oct 18, she told Burnett she wouldn’t return to her job and called Jessica instead, but the latter told her she didn’t need a general manager anymore.
“That’s because the bar closed down, and you’d be transferred to the Tsimshatsui bar under another company,” the presiding officer said.

He added that Pariñas should have filed a claim not against Mad Dogs but against Plan Two. But even with this, the worker faced a problem because it was she who refused to work for the new company.

“According to the Employment Ordinance, you will not be entitled to wages in lieu of one month’s notice,” Wu said.

Pariñas asked the presiding officer who should be held responsible then for her loss of job, and Wu replied Plan Two offered her to work in the new site but she refused.

Wu said Pariñas could not claim severance pay because she was not fired by the company.
But at the same time, the presiding officer said Plan Two could not claim wages in lieu of notice from Pariñas because as early as Oct 5 she had informed the company she did not want to work for it.

Then when it came to the issue of unpaid September wages, Burnett revealed that Pariñas actually owed the company leave pay because she drew salary for the 66 extra days that she was on vacation.

Wu said Pariñas would have to pay back the company if she pursued her claim. The Filipina reluctantly agreed to withdraw; so did Burnett.- Vir B. Lumicao

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