HK gov’t extends foreign domestic workers' contracts as city faces 'new wave' of COVID-19 infections

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2020 06:54 PM

Filipinos in Hong Kong line up to get their temperature clearance before entering the Philippine Consulate on Monday as part of the post's "enhanced health measures."

HONG KONG - The Hong Kong Labor Department has said the flexibility arrangement on the validity period of the contracts of foreign domestic workers will be extended with immediate effect in response to the latest development on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the city. 

The flexibility arrangement was first introduced by the Hong Kong Government on February 4 after the Philippine government imposed a now-revised travel ban on its workers based in Hong Kong and Macau, special regions of China, the origin of the virus. 

"The flexibility arrangement aims to assist those employers whose contracts with their existing FDHs (foreign domestic helpers) are due to expire soon, but are in the situation where the newly hired FDHs cannot fly in to commence the new contract," said the Labor Department.

It added that the arrangement can help the affected families by allowing them to continue retaining their current FDHs temporarily while waiting for the new FDHs to report for duty and help those waiting to report for duty to retain their contracts with their employers.

If the contract with the current worker has already been extended under the flexibility arrangement announced on February 4, the employer may still submit an application to the immigration office to further extend the period of employment and stay of the FDHs up to July 31, 2020.

The department also reminded both employers and workers that inbound travelers need to undergo compulsory home quarantine starting Thursday. Helpers are expected to stay at their employers' residence. For any changes, employers need to liaise with their workers' agencies.

Employers are also reminded to comply with their obligations under the Standard Employment Contract, shouldering accommodation expenses and food allowance. "An employer shall not compel his/her FDH to work outside of the employer's residence," it said. 

Applications for extension of stay of FDHs may be submitted during office hours or by post to the Foreign Domestic Helpers Section at Immigration Tower in Wan Chai. 

Requirements for the application are as follows:
 
- Visa/Extension of Stay Application Form for Domestic Helper from Abroad (ID 988A) completed and signed by the FDH
- current SEC (ID 407) kept by the employer and the FDH with an amendment clause on extending the period of employment duly signed by both parties at the end of page 4
- a supporting letter signed by the employer stating the reason(s) for extending the period of employment
- the FDH's travel document (send a copy if applying by post)
- a visa fee of $230.