Responsive Ad Slot




Buhay Pinay



Philippine News

Join us at Facebook!

Filipina DH wins labour claim despite employer’s absence

10 June 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap


Zerrudo wins her remaining labour claims, even in her employer's absence

Has your employer suddenly disappeared, leaving you with thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and other claims under your work contract? Worry no more, as the Labour Tribunal provides workers with a way to collect money owed them by their absent employers.

Filipina domestic worker C.A.B. Zerrudo, 32, found this out to her great relief on Wednesday, Jun 9, when she won the Tribunal’s nod to collect more than $9,000 plus $1,000 costs against her former employer who seemed to have vanished into thin air.

If the employer cannot still be located, Zerrudo was told she can collect the money awarded her from the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund, a government statutory body.

Masaya ako na nakamit ko na ang hustisya matapos ang halos isang taon,” said Zerrudo. (I am happy to have won justice after almost a year).

Call now!

But getting there had not been easy. After Zerrudo walked out on her job in August last year because her employer, Y.H. Chung, had barred her from taking a day off, gave her little food, and along with her adult son, terrorized her for nearly seven months, she began the lengthy process of claiming all the money due her.

Led to believe by her employment agency that all she could hope to get was her outstanding wages plus payment for her return air ticket and unused holiday pay, Zerrudo signed off on a deal that said she was entitled to only $6,955.

But after consulting with the Mission for Migrant Workers she realized she should have been entitled to much more because her employer was considered to have fired her under the "constructive dismissal" principle by not letting her take a day off, thus violating the terms of their contract.


What she was entitled to, said the Mission, was a month’s salary of $4,630 in lieu of notice, plus payment for all the days she was not allowed to go out on her days off and statutory holidays. The total amount that she should claim came up to $9,100.

Luckily, Zerrudo found another employer shortly after leaving Chung’s house, so she did not have to worry much about getting visa extensions from Immigration. With the Mission’s help, she was able to convince Immigration to allow her to process a new employment contract after sending them a letter detailing her ordeal in her previous job.

At first, the task ahead did not seem difficult. With help from a friendly labour officer, Chung was easily convinced to offer a settlement of $6,000. Zerrudo agreed, and set out to collect the cheque from the Labour Department in Shatin.

But to her dismay, the receipt for the cheque indicated that she was accepting not just the money, but also an admission that Chung committed no wrong against her. Zerrudo backed out, saying she could not sign a document that forced her to admit a lie.

Chung, through the labour arbiter, hinted at raising the offered money to as much as $20,000 but still with the condition that Zerrudo would agree to a no-fault deal.

The helper stood her ground, and with no settlement being reached, the case was referred to the Tribunal for adjudication.

On the first day of hearing on Jan 27, Chung did not show up, and the court was told that the service of summons to her listed address had failed.

Zerrudo brightened up on hearing this, thinking that the officer would declare the employer in default, and award her claims outright. But to her dismay, the officer told her instead to put out an advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation as a form of substituted service to Chung.

Dismayed and worried about incurring additional cost, Zerrudo appealed to the officer to revoke the order, saying she did not have the money and the time to comply with the undertaking. However, the officer stood pat.

Egged on by the Mission and her new employer, Zerrudo decided to fight on. With help from case officer Esther Bangcawayan she managed to haggle down the advertising cost to $1,000.

After paying the newspaper, she went back to the Tribunal to get the wording of the judicial notice that was to be published. Then she had to go back a second time to submit a copy of the newspaper where the advertisement was published.

She got a bit of relief when the original scheduled hearing date in September was moved forward to June.

Wednesday, Jun 9, Zerrudo was back in the tribunal, and after a quick check of the published advertisement that the Filipina had submitted to court earlier, presiding officer Eleanor Leung readily accepted her claim.

Thus ended Zerrudo’s 11-month ordeal.

Salamat sa mga gumabay sa akin na hindi ako dapat pumayag sa alok nila na pera kapalit ng pagsisinungaling,” said Zerrudo. “Salamat sa mga tumulong sa akin na naging bahagi ng pagkapanalo ko.”

(Thank you to those who advised me not to accept the money my employer offered in exchange for telling a lie. Thank you to everyone who helped me and formed part of my victory).

Zerrudo (left), in an outing with a friend, 11 months after escaping a job with no days off

For Zerrudo, it was the end of a long struggle to fight for what was due her after she was forced to leave Chung’s house in Shatin on Aug 2 last year, nearly seven months after she arrived in Hong Kong to work for the employer, her adult son and his wife and two children.

Zerrudo said that during the entire time that she was in Chung’s house, she was not allowed to go out for a day-off, with the employer citing Covid-19 as the reason. And yet, she was made to accompany the elderly woman to the wet market regularly, and she was also asked to join the family on the rare occasions that they dined out.

If she needed to send money, she was accompanied by either Chung or other members of her family and guarded until she completed her transactions.

Food was also scarce, said Zerrudo, with their breakfast consisting only of noodles and their dinner, about two spoonfuls of rice with a little viand, mostly cheap meatballs, on the side. For lunch, they ate only biscuits or other light snacks.

After she complained to her agency, Chung allowed her to rest in her makeshift room for a few hours, but still forbid her from going out on her own.

The final straw came when Chung’s son, F.K. Au, threw a heavy printer in her direction early on Aug 2, 2020, causing it to break into pieces just inches away. The helper said Au had always been verbally abusive, but stopped short of causing her actual physical harm.

That time, she said she got scared, thinking it was only a matter of time before the man would actually hit her.

“When I told them I wanted to leave, both mother and son locked the door. Au then threatened to call in a lawyer and started a video recording, saying he would post it on social media so I couldn’t work in Hong Kong anymore,” said Zerrudo in a letter to Immigration.

She called in the police, who after talking to her, called her agency representative to help ease her departure from Chung’s house. But their negotiations over her wage claims stretched until 5pm that day, during which Zerrudo was not given any food.

Tired and hungry, she agreed to be paid only what was offered her through her agency.

Little did she know that she would spend the next 11 months trying to chase an employer who, probably scared of being held to account for more grievous offences, decided to simply disappear.

Don't Miss