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Notice of termination

25 April 2019



By Cynthia Tellez

One of the things that is important to a migrant worker when she is in a problematic situation is to know how to cope. She does not want to lose her job. She tells her story, complains of unacceptable treatment by someone or some members in the household she works for, and shares her difficulty in the unsuitable accommodation provided by the employer.She needs to hear possible ways on how to improve her condition. There are many women and men in similar situation who want to keep their job, provided they are in a better working and living condition.

This is always a challenge to us at the Mission. As a domestic worker who lives in the employer’s home, controlled and frightened, more often than not, workers think that they, themselves, are not ready to face the consequences. Precisely on our part, we provide you with options to take as well as tell you the possible consequences in every option. But if you look closely, coming forward to share your difficulties also means that you are taking up your situation as a challenge and you are looking for, and are ready to try ways on how to best address the problem. That is why we are happy to assist. We plan with you, and that’s when you realize that it will take some time for changes to happen. It is a relationship where two or more people living under one roof are involved, therefore, adjustments need to come from all and that is not easy, but it is possible.

 To some, however, no matter how much effort they exert to adjust to keep the job, the other party who is the employer, may no longer want to. So at the end, they still lose their job. Others may also find the challenge not worth pursuing so they give up and terminate the contract.
 Clause number 10 of the “Employment Contract (for A Domestic Helper recruited from abroad)” says: “Either party may terminate this contract by giving one month’s notice in writing or one month’s wage in lieu of notice”

 So giving a notice in writing is the best step to do to be able to keep a tangible record of the step taken.

 When this is the step decided by a worker,she should notify the Director of Immigration in writing by any of the following options:
a.)   By post to the following address:Foreign Domestic Helpers Section, Immigration Department, 3/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road,Wan Chai, Hong Kong.
b.) By fax at (852) 2157 9181; or
c.) In person at the:Receipt and Dispatch Unit, Immigration Department, 2/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road,Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Look for the sign “Incoming Mails”

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Regardless then of who initiated the termination of the contract, both the employer and the domestic worker are expected to inform the Immigration Department.

One of the most important information that a worker should remember if it is she who terminated the contract is to declare and write the real reason for initiating the termination of the contract. While you do not officially raise the matter to the police or in whatever court, the record should prove that during your employment with this particular employer, your negative experience with them are recorded.  This is also where a diary is most helpful in recalling incidents and their details.

If the reason for termination is well established, the positive outcome, when you filed your claims at the Labour Department, can also be attained. This positive outcome can guide the Immigration Department in processing your application to transfer employment.

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Expect the worst: the employer may refute in his or her statement all the allegations you stated in your declaration. They may even make up stories to avoid paying their contractual obligations. They may try their best to avoid a ruling favorable to you on claims that you filed at the Labour Department.

One thing that needs to be avoided is to be in a situation where it will be “your word against your employer’s word”. Meaning, both sides are just presenting verbal allegations. Whoever presents evidence in support of the allegations will be favoured by the concerned government agency.

So, building your proof or evidence in support of the allegation is very important to tilt the balance in your favour. How can this be attained?

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Even if the working and living conditions are almost unbearable, try your best to first gather proof and evidence to strengthen your claims that will eventually justify the termination of the contract. Keeping a diary is mentioned earlier. List the dates, time, place, and names when the incidents happened. Recall as many details as you can when writing in your diary. You may also write to the corresponding and responsible authorities such as the Immigration and Labour Departments as well as the Philippine Consulate about your complaints.  Though far from possible, they might want to monitor or check on you and even visit your workplace. This way, the authorities will keep your letters in your file and once you inform them of the termination of your contract, they will keep it in the same file and if needed, they can review your case, especially when you are applying for a new work visa.

Informing the Immigration of your grounds for terminating the contract will help them understand that you are not simply job-hopping. This is a form of reporting. It is not helpful to make up stories such as, ‘the children need my care’, or ‘someone is in trouble in the family’. Lest we forget, the latest government policy says that if Immigration Department finds out that you had several terminations of contract occurring within a certain period of time, you can be suspected of job-hopping and this might hinder your application for a new employment.

If there are portions of this article that are not quite clear to you, please do not hesitate to visit us at St, John’s Cathedral or call 2522-8264.

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This is the monthly column from the Mission for Migrant Workers, an institution that has been serving the needs of migrant workers in Hong Kong for over 31 years. The Mission, headed by its general manager, Cynthia Tellez, assists migrant workers who are in distress, and  focuses its efforts on crisis intervention and prevention through migrant empowerment. Mission has its offices at St John’s Cathedral on Garden Road, Central, and may be reached through tel. 2522 8264.

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