HK Employers Mull Change of FDH Day-off to Weekdays
Hong Kong employers have been asked to consider changing the rest day of foreign domestic workers from Sunday to any day between Monday and Saturday to reduce gatherings in public.
In a report by HK01.com, the convener of the Hong Kong FDH Employer Concern Group, Xu Xiaotong, said that employers could change the rest day of their foreign domestic workers, which is currently designated on Sundays, to any other day in the week to limit their participation in mass gatherings.
She said this as employers expressed concern that their foreign domestic helpers may be more vulnerable to contracting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) after it was reported that the first foreign domestic helper infected with COVID-19 has met up with 10 other people during their day-off on Feb.9.
The Centre for Health Protection said the 32-year-old domestic worker initially tested negative for COVID-19, but a subsequent CT scan showed she has a scar in her lung, prompting a second test on Feb.18 where she tested positive.
The domestic helper worked for the patient considered as the 52nd case of COVID-19 infection in Hong Kong. They lived at Mount Parker Lodge in Quarry Bay.
Xu said that if the change of rest day is not possible, another option is to offer payment to domestic workers if they will be asked to stay at home on Sundays.
Assistant Labor Attache Antonio Villafuerte said that changing the day-off can be done only if it is “mutual.”
“Mapag-uusapan yan ng employer at domestic worker. Basta sa loob ng isang linggo, dapat may day-off,” he said.
Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, general manager of the Mission for Migrant Workers, said that a day-off should also be decided upon by both the employer and the employee.
“Never automatic. IT IS AGREED UPON BY BOTH PARTIES,” she told Hong Kong News on Feb.20.
She said that a change in the designated day for the day-off can also be done as long it is ensured that it is a “CONTINUOUS, 24-HOUR,” rest day.
Dolores-Balladares Pelaez, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-Migrante HK) said, on the other hand, that the proposal is still discriminatory, as it still underpins that foreign domestic workers are carriers of COVID-19.
“It’s foul, parang pinalalabas talaga na foreign domestic helpers ang carrier ng virus. Hindi naman ang pagpapalit ng day-off ang sagot sa coronavirus.”