HK employers liable for firing COVID-positive Filipino workers: consul

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2022 10:05 AM | Updated as of Feb 20 2022 10:15 AM

People wearing face masks queue at a makeshift testing center for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) following the outbreak in Hong Kong, China February 14, 2022. Lam Yik, Reuters
People wearing face masks queue at a makeshift testing center for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) following the outbreak in Hong Kong, China February 14, 2022. Lam Yik, Reuters

MANILA — The Philippines' Consulate General in Hong Kong said Sunday it would hold employers liable for firing Filipino workers who test positive for COVID-19 as the Chinese city faces a surge in infections.

Consul General Raly Tejada said the Philippines will "blacklist" employers that terminate contracts with Filipino workers who contracted the respiratory illness.

"'Yong mga walang pusong employer na nagkasakit na nga 'yong ating mga kababayan, tinerminate pa, pananagutin natin sila sapagkat labag sa batas ng Hong Kong 'yong mag-terminate ng empleyado. Sa madaling salita, hahabulin natin sila," Tejada told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(Those heartless employers who terminated the contract of sick Filipinos will be held liable because what they did is against the laws of Hong Kong. Simply put, we will go after them.)

The consulate has rescued up to 10 Filipino workers who were forced to sleep outdoors after being sacked by employers for testing positive for COVID-19, Tejada said.

"Lahat sila ay nakuha na po natin at nailagay natin sa isolation facility at medical facility," he said.

(We have rescued all of them and put them in isolation and medical facilities.)

Tejada said employers are responsible for the treatment of their COVID-positive employees.

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Those found guilty of firing sick workers will face fines, among other sanctions, said Tejada, adding that he has been in contact with Hong Kong's labor office.

But in case a Filipino worker chooses to return to his or her employer, "we will not stop them from doing so," Tejada said.

Filipino workers in need of help can contact the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong through the number 9155-4023, Tejada said.

Hong Kong is currently in the throes of its worst-ever COVID-19 outbreak, driven by the highly contagious omicron variant. The financial hub is registering thousands of confirmed cases a day, with hospitals reaching a breaking point.