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Come to us for help if you get terminated due to Covid, says PCG

06 June 2022

By The SUN 

Consul Saret advises Filipino workers who get fired after getting Covid to see them if they want redress

All Filipinos, migrant workers or not, should consult the Philippine Consulate for remedies if they were fired from their jobs because of Covid-19 infection.

This was the advice given by Consul Paul Saret when informed that a Filipina who was terminated on the spot after contracting Covid last Feb 26 had agreed to settle her labour claim against her employer for $20,000 on May 31.

Hazel Garces had originally asked for $65,000 from her former employer Enoch Chen – for one month’s salary in lieu of notice, cost of air ticket and travel allowance, unpaid salary and pay for the unserved 13 months in their employment contract.


What she eventually received was less than what she would have been paid for the three months that she had to wait before her case was heard in court, but Garces she just wanted to put the whole incident behind her and go home.

Consul Saret said it was good that the Filipina had decided to pursue a case over her illegal dismissal but it would have been better if she explored additional options, like filing a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission for disability discrimination.

Under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, persons with a disability such as an illness are protected against discrimination, harassment and vilification. As such, it is unlawful for an employer to dismiss a worker or treat him or her any less favorably because of this disability.

In two recent cases, the EOC itself has begun legal proceedings in the District Court against employers who were allegedly discriminated against after they contracted Covid-19.

In the first case reported on April 21, the worker involved had just been accepted to work in a new company when he was diagnosed with Covid-19. After being hospitalized for two weeks, he was told by the respondent company that his job had been filled up by somebody else.

In the second case reported on May 23, the claimant had just started working as a project manager when he contracted Covid-19 and was hospitalized. While still in hospital, he received a message via WhatsApp that he had been dismissed because of his infection.


In taking the two cases to court, the EOC said it hoped “to reinforce public awareness and remind employers that disability discrimination in the workplace is unlawful and it is important to refrain from taking unnecessary measures against people who have Covid-19 infection.”

The EOC further said that the actions are meant “to reiterate the fundamentality of principles against discrimination even in times of changing public health landscape posed by Covid-19.”

Even Hong Kong’s Labour Department did not mince words when it warned employers against terminating their foreign domestic workers who contract Covid.


As early as Feb. 24 or two days before Garces was fired by her employer as soon as she tested positive for Covid, Labour had already warned that dismissing a sick FDH violated both the Employment Ordinance (EO) and the Standard Employment Contract (SEC).

“Under the EO, an employer is prohibited from terminating the contract of employment of an employee on his/her paid sickness day, except in cases of summary dismissal due to the latter's serious misconduct,” the statement said.

“An employer who contravenes relevant provisions of the EO commits an offence and is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $100,000. Besides, if an employer has breached the EO, he/she will not be considered eligible to employ an FDH for a period of time and his/her visa applications for FDHs will be refused.

“Employers are also reminded of possible violation of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO) if they treat their FDHs less favorably (e.g. by dismissing them) because the FDHs have been infected with or recovered from COVID-19," it added.

Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong has issued stern warning against the illegal sackings

This was followed by another statement issued on Mar 5, in which the Hong Kong government said it does not and will not tolerate the illegal dismissal of FDHs who catch Covid-19.

“The Government will stay vigilant in taking enforcement action against any violation of law in liaison and collaboration with the relevant consulates general,” the statement said.

Two days later, Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong wrote in his blog that he had written to the Philippine Consulate to assure that the government would do its outmost to help sick FDHs who were either sacked, driven away from their boarding houses or left stranded after testing positive at the airport on their way home.

He also called on local employers to treat their helpers with kindness.

 “I hope everybody can treat others as they wish to be treated. Be kind to domestic workers, see them as families and go through this pandemic together,” he wrote.

Given all these, Saret said all Filipino migrant workers who get dismissed or are treated unfairly after contracting the virus should not be disheartened, and seek redress.

They can ask help, if not from the Consulate, from the HK Labour Department, EOC and non-government organizations which have all spoken out against such illegal acts.

If they choose to go to the Consulate first, Saret said the first stop should be the office of labour attaché, Mel Dizon.

"Naghihintay lang po sila na sumangguni kayo sa kanila para maghain ng reklamo laban sa mga employer na nag-terminate ng kanilang mga kasambahay dahil sa Covid," he said.

On its own, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office can put offending employers on a watchlist, meaning they would not be allowed to hire another Filipino domestic worker in future.

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