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If your employer drives you out, ask if you’re being fired, DH told

07 September 2019

Tribunal officer says to always ask if you're being fired

A Filipina domestic helper who quit her employment at midnight of Jun 25 because her “madam” told her to “go downstairs” must have to prove she was terminated by the employer before she can claim wages in lieu of notice.

Thus ruled a Labour Tribunal presiding officer on Sept 5 as he dismissed Mylen Correa’s $4,520 claim for wages in lieu out of a set of items totaling more than $16,000 that she was claiming against her employer Cheng Wai-yee.

Presiding Officer David Chum also rejected Correa’s $4,600 claim for boarding house rents and $450 for visa extension costs, saying the maid incurred those costs because she did not leave Hong Kong and decided to pursue her case against Cheng.
In the end, Correa and Cheng mutually agreed to a $5,551.99 settlement to avoid a trial. Chum warned the Filipina she would lose and end up paying costs.

Correa sought compensation because Cheng allegedly terminated her on the night of Jun 25. The employer insisted she did not fire the maid said she would demand a month’s wage in lieu of notice in a counterclaim.

Chum asked the helper what the employer told her when she was dismissing her.
“You go down. I will not give you anything you want,” Correa quoted Cheng as saying. She added that as a result, she called the police.

Chum asked her in disbelief, “How can you say she dismissed you? She told you to go down with the police. You can return after that. You misunderstood her, you were getting too aggressive.”

The officer said the maid should have asked the employer pointblank, “Are you firing me now?” and if the latter answered “Yes,” then she was terminating her.
Chum calculated the helper’s claims for arrears in wages of $3,756.66, air ticket price of $1,095.33 travel/food allowance of $100 and $600 in transport and document processing costs and reached a sum of $5,551.99.

Then he proposed that amount as a settlement, telling the maid that if she insisted on a trial she would lose. As for the employer, Chum said if she drops her counterclaim and pays Correa the amount, the case would be resolved that day.

After a brief meeting, both parties agreed to settle but the employer asked to pay the amount to the court on Sept 11.

Correa said she needed to fly home soon because her mother was dying, so she just assigned the collection to a friend. – Vir B. Lumicao
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