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HK again extends FDW contracts, tells employers to shelter quarantined helpers

19 March 2020

By The SUN

Employers are given relief, but asked to shelter their FDHs who will be quarantined under new travel rules

The Hong Kong government has extended further the validity period of expiring foreign domestic helpers’ contracts to Jul. 31.

The advisory, issued today, Mar 19, covers all contracts that are expiring on or before June 30. Those that had already been extended up to May 30 may be given a further extension under today’s directive.

The measure is intended to provide relief to employers whose newly hired helpers are unable to fly into Hong Kong because of travel restrictions associated with the Covid-19 epidemic.
The Commissioner for Labour has given consent to the additional extension period for expiring contracts, as long as it’s agreed upon by both the employer and the helper.
                  
Employers may apply directly to the Director of Immigration before Jun 30 for the extension of their FDH’s period of employment and stay.

Earlier, the government extended FDH contracts expiring on or before Mar 30, to May 30.

This means contracts that should expire this month could be extended for up to four months, or until Jul 31.

Thousands rushed to fly to Hong Kong before the expanded quarantine rules took effect
Meanwhile, the HK Labour Department has appealed to employers to take in their foreign domestic workers who will be put under 14-day home quarantine under new travel restrictions.

If the employer prefers that their helpers stay out of their residences, they should make prior arrangements with their employment agencies. In such cases, the employer will pay for both the food and accommodation of the helper.

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In either case, the helper is required to stay indoors at all times, which means they can be made to do household chores.

A migrant workers’ support organization, the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, urged the Labour Department to strictly monitor the FDW’s condition under  home quarantine, and ensure that she is paid her salary and provided with basic daily needs.

The AMCB said in a statement that the close monitoring should continue if the employer chooses to send the worker to an agency-run shelter.

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According to the group, there had been numerous cases where workers staying in a shelter run by employment agencies were subjected to abuse, and prevented from learning about their rights in Hong Kong.

AMCB also called for adequate protection for FDWs against Covid-19, citing its recent survey which showed a big number of them are not provided by their employers with protective materials such as face masks and sanitizers.

The mandatory 14-day quarantine that took effect on Mar 19 will last for three months. All quarantined travelers will be subjected to strict monitoring through a wrist monitor they're required to wear at all times.

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Those found violating quarantine rules face a fine of up to $25,000, or imprisonment of up to six months.

The quarantine is being imposed on all new arrivals in Hong Kong, whatever their nationality or visa status, in the wake of a spike in the number of imported cases in the city.


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