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Families of 2 OFWs killed in accidents awarded $800k in labor compensation

30 December 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap

Family members of two Filipina domestic workers who were killed in separate accidents in Hong Kong have been awarded a total of more than $800,000 in employee compensation.

The amount, which is given to workers killed in the course of work, does not include other claims they might be entitled to from other sources, like for personal injury, unpaid salary, long service, and others.

The husband and minor son of Geraldine Betasolo, 37, who died a few days after being hit by a van in Taipo in November last year, got the bigger compensation award of $437,220. The amount was split between her husband Ricardo and 17-year-old son Kyle Joseph.

Geraldine Betasolo and the busy corner where she was hit by a van.

Geraldine’s parents who, under the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, are entitled to a minimal share of 5% of the compensation award, chose to give up their claim.

The second case involves the legal heirs of Rinalyn Duollog, 35, who was killed after she fell while cleaning the windows of her employer’s high-rise flat in Tseung Kwan O on Aug 9, 2016.

Her death prompted Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre to include a prohibition against dangerous window cleaning by Filipino domestic workers, which was subsequently affirmed by the Hong Kong Labour Department, and included in the standard employment contracts of all foreign domestic workers.

As Rinalyn was unmarried, her young son Tristan Jay was given the bulk – or 80% of the compensation – totaling $375,950.

The remaining 20% of the compensation was split three-ways among her parents and a
grandfather, in accordance with the EC Ordinance.

Also in line with the ordinance, the share of the minor children of both Geraldine and Rinalyn are to be locked in a trust fund until they reach the age of majority.

According to Labatt dela Torre, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration was already in the process of setting up a trust fund for Tristan Jay Duollog at the Land Bank, to satisfy the requirement imposed by the insurance company that will pay the compensation.

The same arrangement is being made for the remaining tranche of payment to Kyle Betasolo
amounting to $120,000 (or more than Php800,00) which was paid to the family’s appointed representative in Hong Kong.

According to the Ordinance, an employer is liable to pay compensation to a worker “who sustains an injury or dies as a result of an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment.” The compensation is normally paid through employee insurance which all employers are obliged to take.

The compensation has to be paid even if the worker might have committed an act of negligence (such as crossing a road at non-designated crosswalks) when the accident occurred.

The minimum compensation to be awarded for work-related deaths that occurred after April 2017 has been set at $408,960. But the total payout could be more, depending on the salary and age of the worker, as in Geraldine’s case.

Earlier, Ricardo and Kyle were also granted compensation amounting to $170,950 under the Traffic Accident Victims Assistance (TAVA) scheme of the Social Welfare Department. But the amount had to be refunded after the labor claim had been paid out, in accordance with TAVA rules.

As Geraldine had been working for her employer for six years, her family also received a total of more than $17,000 from her employer to cover long service pay, unpaid salary and other benefits.

Her employer, Cheng Rojas Kalay, also paid for the repatriation and funeral expenses for Geraldine, in accordance with EC rules.

On top of this, the grief-stricken employer paid extra for the return air ticket of Ricardo and Kyle when they came to Hong Kong to claim Geraldine’s body, and for their accommodation.

Father and son also received Php220,000 from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration as compensation for an OFW’s death due to accident, and burial assistance. The same amount was paid to the heirs of Rinalyn.

But as a third party was involved in Geraldine’s accident, the Betasolos could still pursue a personal injury claim against the insurers of the van that hit her. To pursue this, however, the Betasolos would have to get help from the Legal Aid Department and its appointed solicitors.

The personal injury claim could be pursued within three years after the accident, even if the van driver was let off lightly by the court, which imposed a mere $700 fine on him on a charge of “using defective vehicle not fitted”.

For more information about employee compensation, click on this link:

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