Domestic helpers play a crucial role in many households in Hong Kong. And since the pandemic started, they took on an even more important role, looking after everyone, especially the children and the elderly, carefully preparing meals, going outside to get supplies, and generally being there for others in these critical times.
However, as much as employers depend on their helpers, these workers are not immune to the effects of the virus as well. That said, here are the things that every employer and domestic helper should understand when COVID-19 strikes at home or affects the foreign domestic helper.
Consider These Things When A Domestic Helper Tests Positive for COVID-19
These are the general steps that you should be aware of if a domestic helper tests positive for COVID-19:
- The maid will be hospitalized, in accordance with Hong Kong government protocols for COVID-19 positive patients. The employment agency should be contacted for guidance and support.
- The employment agency must also inform the competent consulates, as the agency must be aware of the welfare of the domestic worker.
- Since the domestic worker will have a work visa, she will have access to public health by paying a Hong Kong resident rate. If the waitress has just arrived at the Hong Kong airport, the work visa is automatically activated upon arrival.
- The domestic worker will be considered fully cured and able to work at the end of the sick leave, generally indicated on discharge from the hospital. You will be provided with relevant medical records and instructions on any follow-up medical appointments.
- For a healthy relationship, employers must maintain open communication with their domestic worker about work and health situations.
- Seek advice from the Department of Labor and/or the agency if unsure of salary and sick pay.
- And finally, employers SHOULD NOT terminate the contract for the reason that the domestic employee tested positive for COVID-19. The Hong Kong government has reported that this would be a violation of the Employment Ordinance and/or the Disability Discrimination Ordinance.
It is a fact that employers are the domestic helper’s custodian since most of them do not have family in Hong Kong, and are mainly there to earn a living for their family back home. With this in mind, please consider their rights as individuals, who also are going through this crisis just as much as you and your family are – perhaps, even more.
Whether we recognize it or not, everyone is doing their best to cope with the situation these days, by doing our part, we can all help each other to get through this pandemic, and come out stronger and better individuals in the future.