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Dismissed Filipina wins severance pay

25 July 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

Victoria Cobardo did not get the full amount of her claim against her former employer on July 11, but she left the Labour Tribunal contented with the equivalent of a month’s salary that she received as severance pay.
The Filipina had to fight for the $4,210 she eventually got after her former boss, Jocelyne Wong, initially insisted on just a $500 settlement.
Cobardo’s case uncovered a fact that many migrant domestic workers may not know – that they are entitled to severance pay if they are made redundant, aftter having worked continuously for an employer for more than 24 months. The compensation is like for long service, which js 2/3 for every year of service.
The maid hauled Wong to the Labour Tribunal court to claim a severance pay of $6,970 for terminating her services in May this year, after just half a year into her second contract.
Wong told her in April she was ending Cobardo’s contract as she no longer needed her services because she had lost her job and so was moving to a small flat with her husband.
Out of “goodwill”, as Wong later told Presiding Officer David Chum, she described Cobardo in a letter as a good worker who cleaned the house, hand-washed clothes, washed the car, tended the garden and took care of the dog.
But in a letter to the Immigration Department, Wong said she terminated Cobardo’s contract because she was unhappy with the maid’s “poor performer with poor attitude.”
“How could this be,” Chum said. “Today you are saying that your helper is a good house cleaner, car washer and keeper of your dog. Then two weeks later you say she performs poorly and has a bad attitude. You are contradicting yourself.”
Chum then tried to convince both sides to settle their dispute amicably, saying a litigation  could be costly and time-consuming. When they agreed to settle, Cobardo and Wong were sent to the tribunal officer to finalize the deal
Wong made an initial maximum offer of $500, then raised it to $2,800, but the Filipina stood pat on her $6,970 claim. In the end, both parties agreed on $4,210 and Wong paid the Filipina in cash.
After the hearing, Cobardo said she would now focus on looking for an employer.      

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