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DH fired after overstaying while in China sues employer

01 May 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao 

A Filipina who had overstayed her visitor’s visa while she was on the mainland serving her employer, has filed a $112,000 claim against the latter for terminating her contract upon hearing her stay permit had expired.

Myles A. Alfaro laid the claim against Lin Haiyan, a mainland businesswoman residing in Hong Kong, but the defendant did not show up for the hearing in the Labour Tribunal on Apr 26.

The Labour Tribunal building on Gascoigne Road, Yaumatei.
The defendant sent her cousin, a Mr Kwok, as her representative purportedly because she was in Sri Lanka for an important business meeting.

Lin’s absence upset Presiding Officer Isabella Chu, who said she could not allow Kwok to represent the defendant as he was not in a position to address the issues against the employer.

Kwok explained that Lin had thought of appearing in the hearing but that she really had a very important business meeting.

Chu, however, did not accept that explanation.  She said the tribunal hearing was an equally important meeting that had been set a month ago.

She said Lin should have informed the Tribunal that she would be outside Hong Kong on the day of the hearing so that another date would have been booked.

“It’s not fair to the taxpayer. It’s not just the defendant who is busy, I am busy as well. Digest what I said to you just now: ‘Don’t waste the time of the court, don’t waste the taxpayers’ money.” 

She told Kwok the defendant would be charged the full cost of the day’s hearing, then instructed him to call Lin and ask her to choose a date in early May when she is available to attend court.

Alfaro tearfully expressed her concern that Lin might not appear again in the next hearing, but Chu assured her that in case that happens, she would deal with the case in favor of the domestic worker.

Alfaro is claiming $630 in arrears in wages, one-way air fare to Manila of $1,120, $100 food allowance, $97,492.50 for the unfinished portion of her contract that includes wages in lieu of notice, as well as expenses incurred totaling $12,384.87.

The expenses include such items as the $1,780 air ticket, accommodation in China following her termination and the fine she paid the mainland immigration for overstaying her visa for 20 days.

Alfaro said Lin wanted her to fly back to the Philippines right after her termination, but the helper called up her agency, which lent her money to buy an air ticket to Hong Kong.

Chu set the next hearing for May 10 and instructed Kwok to remind Lin that she might have to be in court the whole day so she must set no other business meetings on that day.

When Alfaro asked whether she could start looking for a new employer, Chu said she should ask the Immigration Department.

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