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Employers must pay for quarantine and Covid-19 test of their FDHs, says LD

18 July 2020

By The SUN

Employers must pay for the swab test and quarantine of OFWs arriving in HK from Jul 25

The Hong Kong Labour Department has told employers that they should bear the cost of the nucleic acid (swab) test for their foreign domestic helpers flying into the city starting on Jul 25, as well as the cost of their 14-day hotel quarantine, plus food allowance.

This follows an earlier announcement that all travelers coming from the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and South Africa must show proof that they tested negative for Covid-19 no longer than 72 hours before their departure.

A press release issued today, Jul 18, states that employers will be required to sign an undertaking to the government that indicates they will comply with the pre-boarding requirements of their domestic helper who come from any of these countries, and pay for the cost of the swab test.
These requirements include a certificate showing that a nucleic acid test was conducted within 72 hours prior to departure, and that the result was negative for the FDHs who present it to the airline prior to boarding.

The FDH must also bring along the original test result issued by a laboratory or healthcare institution, plus a letter certifying that the health facility is recognised or approved by the government of the country where the FDHs was coming from.

In addition, the FDH must show proof of confirmation of room reservation in a hotel in Hong Kong for not less than 14 days starting on the day of her arrival in the city.



“Employers found to be in breach of the undertaking may be given an adverse record and ImmD may refuse their future applications for employment of FDHs,” said the statement from the Labour Department.

“Employers are also reminded to comply with their obligations under the Standard Employment Contract, including bearing the accommodation expenses and providing food allowance to FDHs during the FDHs' compulsory quarantine.”

The food allowance for FDHs is currently set at $1,121 a month, so it should be half that,or $560.50, for the 14-day quarantine. However, no mention was made of whether the FDH should be paid her salary for the duration of the quarantine.
The statement also said that the FDH must produce the said documents prior to boarding the aircraft from their home country, so the employers and their employment agencies must prepare them beforehand.

“If an FDH is not able to meet any of the conditions specified by the Secretary for Food and Health, he/she may not be allowed to board the flight to Hong Kong and newly arrived FDHs may be denied entry into Hong Kong upon arrival,” said the statement.

The FDHs are also reminded to remain at the hotel as stated in the quarantine order during their compulsory 14-day quarantine.
 
Everyone under quarantine must stay at their designated hotels, or risk prosecution
Employment agencies, on the other hand, are required to give correct information about the new regulations to the employer and the FDH, and help them make the necessary arrangements.

Those who fail to comply with this requirement will be penalized in line with the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies.


The new measures are being taken amid a recent surge in the number of Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong, most of them locally acquired.

But since mandatory swab testing was introduced for all new arrivals in Hong Kong on Apr 7, a significant number of travelers coming from Pakistan and India, as well as FDHs from the Philippines, were found infected.

In the past week alone, an average of two Filipina domestic workers who arrived in Hong Kong tested positive for the coronavirus disease, although most did not show symptoms.

A list of licensed hotels for the mandatory quarantine is available at the website of the Office of the Licensing Authority of the Home Affairs Department (www.hadla.gov.hk/cgi-bin/hadlanew/search.pl? client=1&searchtype=1&licenceNo=&name=&address=&room=0&district=0&displaytype=2).

When choosing a hotel for quarantine purpose, employers and EAs (if applicable) are reminded to contact the hotel for more details and refer to the Infection Control Advice for Person under Compulsory Home Quarantine (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/infection_control_advice.pdf) issued by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health.

For labor-related inquiries, the LD may be contacted through the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by "1823") or by email to fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk

Inquiries as to FDH visa applications, may be coursed through the Immigration Department enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by email to enquiry@immd.gov.hk.

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