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‘Abused’ worker breaks contract, wins claim against her employer

23 July 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao
 
A diminutive Filipina domestic worker showed her employer she could not take the bad treatment she was getting from his wife and quit her job just 16 days into her work contract, and the Labour Tribunal supported her.

In a hearing on Jul 6, presiding officer Eric Tam ordered the employer to pay Joy Verzola her wages for the 16 days she had worked for the family and give her money for her air ticket back to the Philippines.

All in all, Verzola received $3,452 from Liu Chung Hang as payment for arrears in wages, including $1,200 for a one-way plane ticket home, and $100 in travel and food allowance. 

Initially, Liu refused to pay her wages and demanded that he be paid a month’s pay in lieu of notice because Verzola broke their contract on May 4 and refused to stay on until Jun 25.

But Tam told Liu that the worker had the right to terminate the contract if she was assaulted by the employer’s wife as she had claimed.

When Tam asked Liu to tell his side of the case, the employer said the helper just made up some of the charges. But the presiding officer rebuked Liu, asking why it was he and not his wife who was at the Tribunal. Tam said Liu’s wife should submit a statement.

“If this case goes to trial, your wife will be called to give evidence,” Tam said.

“You don’t know what is happening at home when you are at work. It’s a matter of common sense that your wife should be a witness. If (Verzola) is assaulted by your wife, she has the right to terminate the contract,” he added.

After the hearing, Verzola told The SUN she could not stand Mrs Liu’s treatment of her so she decided to break her contract. On the first occasion, the woman allegedly pulled her hair, hit her hands and grabbed her nape tightly, so she told her employment agency, and they in turn talked to her employers.

On May 4, Mrs Liu allegedly pulled the maid’s hair again after being told staff from the employment agency was coming to fetch her. Verzola called the police and they took her statement, but she did not press charges.

She said she left the Liu home penniless and was given shelter at Bethune House  Migrant Women’s Refuge.

  Verzola, an HRM graduate in the Philippines, arrived in Hong Kong on Apr 19 for her first employment overseas. The 24-year-old mother from Nueva Vizcaya said she paid P19,000 for her training and medical checkup.

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