Workers in Hong Kong should be smart and aware of situations which their employers may put them in that could potentially put them at risk for legal charges. Even if an employer tells them one thing, it does not necessarily mean it’s the right thing to do.
Other than the provisions set by their employment contracts, domestic workers, in particular, are also bound by laws that govern residents of Hong Kong, and nowhere else in the world. Therefore, the protection that they get in the country does not extend when they are brought by their employer outside of Hong Kong.
HK Employer Refuses to Settle Damage Claims Filed by Filipina Worker
Such is the case of a Filipina worker who was allegedly fired by her employer for refusing to go to China to work for another person, and was refused payment for damages by her employer, as shared in a report by the Asia Times.
In a statement presented by the employer Wong San-wing at the Labour Tribunal in Hong Kong on Tuesday (May 21), Wong refused to pay the HK$113,000 (US$14,396) claim of 48-year-old worker Rowena Obaldo because the employer claimed that the worker had found a new employer after her dismissal.
However, Obaldo had once again been terminated by her new employer after only a month, Wong said. Obaldo’s damages claim was based mostly on her loss of income during the four years which she attributed to her employment with Wong, employment agent CK Chan and mainland employer DZ Huang.
The three were convicted in a “conspiracy to defraud” cases filed against them by immigration and were each sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for two years. The three appealed their case in the High Court last September, but lost in their bid.
During this period, Obaldo was unable to find work while incurring expenses, so she increased her damages claim from HKD 70,000 to HKD 113,000.
In August 2015, Obaldo was interviewed by Huang and was then informed by the agent to sign a work contract with Wong, as the employer supposedly liked her. She began her employment in Wong’s Hung Hom flat on June 11 that year.
Then on August 2015, Wong told Obaldo that she was bringing her on a holiday to the mainland with the employer’s daughter and son. Obaldo applied for a visitor visa to China and travelled with Wong and her children across the border to their destination. However, Obaldo claimed that she could not remember the name of the place.
It was only then that Obaldo learned that she was taken to China to work for Huang, and that the children were not Wong’s but Huang’s. Left without anything to do about the situation since her passport was taken by Huang, Obaldo performed domestic work such as cleaning the house, cooking, shopping in the market, and taking the children to their activity centres.
Obaldo said that she always felt anxious during her stay at Huang’s because she knew that her status on the mainland was illegal. When her visa was about to expire, Huang instructed Obaldo to return to Hong Kong on September 25 to renew it. It was only then that she had found the opportunity to report what had happened to her to the Immigration Department of Hong Kong and also to the Philippine Consulate.
The following day, Obaldo told Wong and the agent that she no longer wants to go back to the mainland, and at that point, her contract was terminated and she has had difficulty to look for another job since.