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Filipina ‘job-hopper’ ordered to leave after 2 terminations, one back-out

03 January 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Letter sent by Immigration telling Ludy she must go back home

Two days before Hong Kong Immigration announced that it was reverting to its policy of allowing terminated foreign domestic workers to remain for only 14 days, a  Filipina was told she needed to go back home after being terminated twice in six months.

Ludy C., 56, was set to leave for Manila today, Jan 3, after more than two months of trying to get another employment contract approved by Immigration. But as (bad) luck would have it, her Philippine Airlines flight was cancelled at the last minute, so now she's back to worrying about where to get the money to sustain her needs while she remains stuck in Hong Kong.

Ludy was terminated for a second time this year on Oct 27 and managed to get another employer to sign her up, but apparently because she fell into the “job-hopping” category, Immigration rejected her bid to secure a new employment visa.

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In line with existing practice, FDWs whose contracts are terminated repeatedly with no valid excuse are deemed as job-hoppers, and as such, are denied the chance to remain and secure a new job.

On Dec 30, Immigration tightened the restrictions further by announcing that it was reverting to its standing policy of allowing all terminated FDWs to stay for only two weeks after termination. Exemptions will only be allowed in “exceptional circumstances,” such as when the employer dies, relocates, or runs into financial difficulties.

This so-called 14-day rule, which has been in place since 1987, was relaxed for the first time this year amid the pandemic, which left many FDWs stranded in both Hong Kong and their home countries because of travel restrictions.

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Ludy said that after Immigration’s initial advice to her that she would no longer be allowed to stay and wait for her new employment contract to be processed, she managed to ask for a reconsideration.

She got herself a new employer, who unfortunately, was stuck in China so could not attend a pre-employment interview scheduled by Immigration. In the end, the employer decided to just back out of their contract, which could have amounted to a third black mark in Ludy’s employment record.

Subsequently, Ludy received a letter from Immigration dated Dec 21 in which she was told that that she could only stay another week.

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The letter read: “Having considered all the circumstances of the case and all available information, the Director of Immigration is not satisfied that you have met all the eligibility criteria given in the “Guidebook for the Employment of Domestic Helpers from Abroad. Your application is therefore refused.”

She was told to leave “on or before Dec 28”, but when she tried to book a flight home, Ludy found out that because of the busy holiday period, the earliest she could depart was Jan. 3.

She went to Immigration on Dec 27 and asked for another visa extension, bringing along her new plane ticket as proof. To her dismay, not only did the immigration officer who interviewed her denied her application, he also reportedly shouted at her in front of a lot of people.

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After her repeated pleas that there was no way she could go home by the following day, the officer ordered her to go to the Consulate and ask for a letter certifying that there were really no flights immediately available.

Ludy then reached out to Rain Tuando, an administrator of the Facebook group Domestic Workers Corner, who lost no time in relaying her request for urgent help to Consul General Raly Tejada.

The next day, Ludy was given a letter written by Consul Paul Saret, head of the assistance to nationals section, requesting Immigration Commissioner Au Ka-wang, to extend her visa long enough for her to get on a plane back to Manila.

 

Saret asked Immigration to give Ludy time to get on next available flight home

On the eve of her supposed departure, Ludy could only express regret at how her first job termination in April this year had led to a series of misfortunes that ended with her being told to leave Hong Kong.

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She said she first came here to work in 1990, then decided to go back home for good after nine years. But with her two kids about to start college, she decided to come back in early 2016, and ended up looking after an elderly male employer for four years.

When she was released in December last year, a month away from finishing her second contract, Ludy was signed up to look after an elderly woman who lived alone. But an accident that led to her elderly ward getting operated on for a bone fracture that was left untreated for two months, led to her termination on Apr 3.

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She then managed to secure another job, but for reasons Ludy says she is not clear about, Immigration rejected their employment contract.  

Luckily, because of the relaxed rules amid the pandemic she managed to stay on and got herself a new elderly employer. But her luck again turned when her prospective employer suddenly passed away while her employment visa application was already being processed. 

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She remained jobless until October, when she was signed up by a new employer. But this time, Ludy said she had to do house chores and attend to the needs of a couple, their baby, an elderly parent, and a dog.

She said she got so tired that when she was asked to wash dishes after taking her day off on Oct 25, she begged off. In an act of pique, she sent her employers the part of the Employment Ordinance that stipulates the penalty for employers who make their FDWs work on their day-off.

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The next day, her male employer terminated their contract and asked Ludy to leave their house. He reportedly cited as reason her having failed to meet the employers' expectations.

Ludy said she wants to come back to Hong Kong to work, as she is still sending her two children through college. But given her age, her having been sent home for repeated terminations, and the continuing travel restrictions because of the pandemic, there’s just a slim chance that will happen, at least not anytime soon.

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