Hong Kong: Firing domestic workers with Covid-19 ‘immoral’, Filipino envoy says


A top Filipino diplomat in Hong Kong said it is illegal and “immoral” for employers to fire and evict domestic workers who test positive for the coronavirus, as the former British colony experiences its worst Covid-19 outbreak.

Consul-General Raly Tejada told an online news conference that the Philippine mission had helped 31 Filipinos who sought its help for hospitalisation or access to isolation rooms, adding 61 in all had tested positive.

He also said they are looking into the cases of “around three to five” Filipinos whose employment contracts were allegedly terminated after they tested positive.

“If it can be proven that they were asked to leave because of their sickness, this can be considered an illegal dismissal under the employment ordinance in Hong Kong,” he said.

“We are proactively engaging also the employers to explain to them that terminating their employees in these difficult times especially when they are positive is not only illegal. It is immoral.”

“Many of them have been convinced to take back their employees and to make sure that proper care and assistance is given to them,” Tejada said, without giving details.

Hong Kong residents live in one of the world’s most densely packed cities and rely on some 370,000 foreign domestic workers – the vast majority women from the Philippines and Indonesia – who cook, clean, and care for their families.

In Hong Kong, foreign domestic workers must live with their employers, cannot swap jobs easily, and are entitled to one day off a week.

Last week a coalition of Hong Kong groups representing migrant workers alleged some found themselves denied treatment at hospitals because they had lost their jobs.

Activists said many Hong Kong employers were refusing to let their domestic workers leave often cramped apartments even on their day off, while some had been fired for taking their rest day.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told residents on Friday to encourage helpers to stay indoors, and said police would step up social distancing fines. (Source: The Straits Times)