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Employer, FDH end 6-month dispute with $9,000 payout

26 January 2022

 By The SUN

At issue before the Tribunal was who terminated the employment contract

A six-month-old labor case  between an employer and her Filipina domestic helper, which began as an argument over a missing bottle of spice, ended today with a settlement they signed before the Labour Tribunal.

Under the settlement, Gina de Leon received $9,000 as final payment for all claims she filed against her former employer, Poon Man Ka.


Presiding Officer Timon Shum brought the two sides to a settlement despite their failure to resolve what he described as the “hot issue”-- the employer insisting that her helper quit her job and de Leon insisting she was terminated.

Shum explained that the employer had agreed to pay a total of $8,549 for de Leon’s claims for unpaid wages, one month’s pay in lieu of notice, annual leave, food and travel allowance for her return home, and the cost of air ticket home.


But Poon objected to de Leon’s claim of $16,000 for long service pay for having been terminated after she worked  for five years, or severance pay which Hong Kong laws require to be paid if an employee who has worked for at least 24 months, is terminated due to redundancy.

She insisted that de Leon resigned and was not terminated, and therefore was not entitled to these payments. The latter insisted she was terminated, and should be entitled to them. Shum pointed out that there was no strong evidence to prove either claim.

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Shum said such a disagreement, which he has seen in many other cases in the past, could lead to the case being referred to the court. However, he added, the earliest this case can be scheduled for hearing would be in September and the case could take months.

After such long wait, the decision can go either way --  an additional $16,000 payment to De Leon or a deduction of $4,630, or one month’s wage in lieu of notice, from the amount her employer had already agreed to pay.


Turning to Poon, Shum suggested damage control, where both sides could reach an agreement, so as to save on time and anger by saying goodbye to each other in peace.

He suggested that Poon pay $8,000, or half of de Leon’s unresolved claims, in recognition of their five years of working together. But Poon rejected the suggestion.

He lowered his suggestion to $10,000 for everything – or an extra payment of $1,451 – but Poon again rejected it.

Turning to de Leon, Shum asked if she could consider a settlement. She answered, “After six months, I have no work yet. I plan to return home. I am here because of this case.” She added that even if she felt that it was unfair, she was leaving the matter to Shum.

This made Shum turn again to Poon, saying, “Would you consider giving her $9,000?”

The last figure, which brought down de Leon’s unresolved claim for $16,000 to $451, got immediate approval from Poon. The two signed the settlement after Poon paid $9,000 in cash to de Leon. 


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