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Home-alone DH told she won’t get paid for time employer was away

25 April 2020

By Vir B.Lumicao

Many FDWs are told they can't get paid for the days they were unable to work due to Covid-related reasons

A Filipina helper who was terminated recently is claiming unpaid salary for the months she was left alone at home when her employer and her family went to China in December, and were subsequently locked down as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The employer is reportedly insisting that the maid’s few months’ wait was a “no pay leave.” 
The plight of the abandoned domestic worker is just one of scores of termination cases that helpers had reported to the Mission for Migrant Workers these past few weeks.

Johannie Tong, community relations officer of the church-based non-government organization, said in an interview on Apr 23 that the helper had been left alone in the flat for a few months while her employers went to the Mainland, and got stuck there.
 
Tong joins mask-distribution to FDHs enjoying their Sunday day-off
But, one day, the worker was contacted by a representative of her employers who told her she was being dismissed because the family wouldn’t be returning from China.

“She is trying to talk to the employer at the moment because we helped her calculate the compensation,” Tong said.

Settling the compensation has been muddled by the no-pay leave argument many employers are using, citing the Covid-19 pandemic as reason.

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But in many of the cases, it is the helper who was unable to return to work on time, after the Philippines imposed a three-week ban on travel to Hong Kong starting Feb 2.

Tong said that as the Labour Department or Immigration Department has not made a clear stand on the issue, the maid’s employers are insisting they have no obligation to pay her during the time that they were away.

The employers reportedly insist the helper should not get paid during their absence as she had nothing to do at their home for months.

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“They were telling the helper, ‘You are here but you are not working at all,’ as they considered the situation as a no pay leave,” Tong said.

The employers told the worker she wouldn’t get paid for that period only when they terminated her.

“So we told her, ‘This shouldn’t be happening because she didn’t inform you in the first place that you stay here but you are not receiving any payment',” Tong said.

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As of this writing, the abandoned worker is still awaiting word from her absent employers about her compensation claim.

Tong said terminations had become frequent since the coronavirus contagion reached Hong Kong in late January this year before it became a pandemic.



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