The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Saturday, March 5, said it is working with relevant Consulates General in the region to assist all foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) affected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

AFP FILE/ MANILA BULLETIN

In a statement, the HKSAR Government clarified that it “does not and will not tolerate any employers of FDHs illegally dismissing FDHs who have suffered from the COVID-19 and in violation of the Employment Ordinance (EO).”

“The 5th wave of the COVID-19 epidemic has hit us hard and we could only overcome this major challenge with the full support and cooperation of the community. FDHs working in Hong Kong are a core part of our community and we believe the great majority of their employers are responsible and reasonable. The HKSAR Government will protect the legitimate rights and interests of FDHs in Hong Kong,” the spokesman said.

Under the EO, an employer is prohibited from terminating the contract of employment of an employee on his/her paid sickness day, except in cases of summary dismissal due to the latter’s serious misconduct.

“For those FDHs under employment who test positive to the COVID-19 or are regarded as close contacts, they will receive support like any other citizens of Hong Kong,” it said.

Employers are also reminded of the possible violation of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance if they treat their FDHs less favourably for being infected with the disease.

Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong were earlier reported to have been forced to sleep on the streets, including train stations, after being terminated for testing positive for the COVID-19 amid a surge in infections in the region.

Hong Kong has around 330,000 foreign domestic workers, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia.

The government, meanwhile, also assured that domestic workers who are currently unemployed are being assisted in their admission to suitable facilities with the support and assistance of the relevant Consulates General by the Labour Department.

The HKSAR government and the local community said it “greatly value and appreciate the significant contributions rendered by FDHs in support of families and the local economy.”

“We much empathise with their not being able to visit their families back at home because of the ravaging epidemic. The HKSAR Government is committed to continue protecting the employment rights and interests of FDHs in order to maintain Hong Kong as an attractive place for FDHs to work,” the statement read.

The HKSAR government also thanked FDHs for staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus, saying “FDH gatherings in popular spots had been significantly reduced” for the past weekends.