MANILA — Three Filipino workers in Hong Kong who were sacked for catching COVID-19 have been rehired by their employers, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) there said Thursday.
Labor Attache Melchor Dizon said on PTV that his office was able to assist the case of three OFWs who were fired after getting infected with COVID-19.
"Sa ngayon, 'yung 3 na in-assist namin, na-reconsider na. So tinanggap na ulit ng employers after sila ay maka-recover," he said.
"Kino-contact namin ang mga workers na na-terminate dahil sa COVID-19. 'Yun nga, yung 3 lang na na-terminate... pero na-reconsider na siya," Dizon said.
(As of now, the three we have assisted have been reconsidered. Their employers took them back after they have recovered. We have been contacting workers who were terminated due to COVID-19.)
He said his office created a team to look into the illegal termination of Filipino workers who contracted COVID-19.
Aside from the case of the three, there are reports about others that they need to verify.
Philippine authorities in Hong Kong have yet to file formal complaints over the incident, said Dizon, which is why he called on Filipinos there to report their experience, if any.
He noted that some workers have been terminated even before the COVID-19 surge in Hong Kong, based on their verification.
At present, the labor office is still attending to 43 cases regarding employment status.
"So far, sa record namin... may mga terminations dito before magka-COVID. Kaya 'yung iba nasasabi nila na na-terminate sila because of COVID," said Dizon.
(So far, based on records..., there were terminations here before the workers tested positive for COVID-19. Some have been claiming they were terminated because of COVID.)
"Mayroon dito, nag-terminate 'yung employers... After our verification, 25 dito na-terminate na bago magkaroon ng COVID. Sila ay kasalukuyang nagpo-process ng kanilang working permit para sa bagong employer," he added.
(There are cases here who have been terminated by their employers... After our verification, we found 25 who were terminated before they got COVID-19. They are now currently processing their working permit with their new employers.)
The employment ordinance in Hong Kong states that employers found terminating workers who contracted COVID-19 will be fined at least P650,000, Dizon said.
The country could also blacklist employers who illegally dismissed Filipino workers, and would be held liable under Hong Kong's laws, he continued.
Hong Kong is currently experiencing a fresh wave of new COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the more transmissible omicron variant.
Since the pandemic began in 2020, the tally of infections in the Chinese-ruled city stands at more than 290,000, with a death toll of about 1,100.
About 700 of those deaths have been in the past week, with the majority unvaccinated people.
Health experts from the University of Hong Kong said the coming week is expected to bring a peak of about 183,000 daily infections.
— with a report from Reuters