Terminated Filipino workers in Hong Kong appeal for govt help

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 07 2022 12:48 PM | Updated as of Mar 07 2022 05:17 PM

Patients showing COVID-19 symptoms lie on beds outside the Accident and Emergency Department at Caritas Medical Center in Hong Kong, China, Feb. 15, 2022. Hong Kong's medical system has been overloaded by the fifth-wave COVID-19 outbreak while authorities have reported more than 1,600 confirmed cases and 5,400 suspected infections on Feb. 15. Miguel Candela, EPA-EFE
Patients showing COVID-19 symptoms lie on beds outside the Accident and Emergency Department at Caritas Medical Center in Hong Kong, China, Feb. 15, 2022. Hong Kong's medical system has been overloaded by the fifth-wave COVID-19 outbreak while authorities have reported more than 1,600 confirmed cases and 5,400 suspected infections on Feb. 15. Miguel Candela, EPA-EFE

MANILA (UPDATED)—Two Filipino workers are seeking assistance from the Philippine government after they were terminated by their employers amid the COVID-19 surge in Hong Kong.

Speaking to ANC's Rundown, Mylene Commission said her visa application was rejected by the immigration department. She later learned she tested positive for COVID-19.

"Sana mapansin nila 'yung maliliit na, 'yung katulad po namin kasi sa last few days, pati nga ako naii-stress, nade-depress na. Naaawa na kami sa sarili namin. Hindi lang kasi ako, marami po talaga kami, na sobrang apektado po nitong nangyari sa'min," she said.

"'Yung wala ka ng trabaho, na-COVID ka pa, tapos 'yung pamilya mo na umaasa diyan sa Pilipinas, hindi namin alam kung saan kami kukuha ng isusuporta sa kanila," she added.

Meanwhile, Roxanne Florendo said she was terminated after she failed to return to work due to a flight cancellation in the Philippines.

"Some of us suffer from anxiety and depression kasi sobrang hirap ng sitwasyon ngayon," she said.

Both are staying at a shelter run by a non-government organization.

Should they be ordered to return to the Philippines, they called on the government to provide displaced workers with financial assistance.

Commission is a single mother who provides for her children while Florendo's mother was supposed to undergo surgery.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Hans Leo Cacdac said the agency will help the 2 Filipino workers.

"We sympathized with their plight. They just have to go through the recovery stage in so far as their illness is concerned. Once recovered, we will help them in terms of either seeking reemployment in Hong Kong or bringing them home safely," he said.

Cacdac also disclosed that many overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong who were terminated after contracting COVID-19 had been rehired.

He said they were able to convince Hong Kong employers to rehire the OFWs.

"Being COVID-positive is not a ground for termination, even under Hong Kong law. Because the remedy is simple. The worker should just be allowed to take a sick leave. And once fully recovered, he or she returns to the employer," he said.

To date, Cacdac said 190 OFWs in Hong Kong have tested positive for COVID-19, 58 of which have recovered while some 52 percent are isolating in their employers' houses.

"This is a good development because 2 weeks ago the percentage of OFWs taken in by their employers was around 30 percent. There is a vast increase," he said.

The Hong Kong government has assured Manila it would protect the rights of overseas Filipino workers amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government reminded employers of OFWs, mostly domestic helpers, of their legal obligations to take care of their employees even if they are stricken with the virus.

Hong Kong employers who will be found guilty of violating regulations will be prosecuted and fined up to $100,000.

Employers are also reminded of the possible violation of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance if they mistreat their domestic helpers due to COVID-19 infection.

"Any breach of such requirements will render them ineligible to employ an FDH (foreign domestic helpers) for a period of time and their visa applications for FDHs will be refused," said the HKSAR.

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