PCG asks HK: Make long service pay for FDHs mandatory

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THE Philippine Consulate General (PCG) has asked the Hong Kong government to make it mandatory for employers to give foreign domestic workers their long service pay if they have served for at least five years.

Assistant Labor Attache Antonio Villafuerte, officer in charge of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, said they made the formal request during the technical working group (TWG) meeting on August 22 between PCG officials and HK government representatives.

“We asked that, once the domestic worker reaches five years with the same employer, she should already be given her long service pay, whoever it is who ends the contract,” Villafuerte told Hong Kong News in an interview.

He said that under current rules, Filipino domestic workers do not get their long service pay if they break their contract after working for five years with their employer.

“Once she reaches five years, it should already be automatic so that they don’t need to annoy each other,” Villafuerte said.

“The employer would wait for the worker to break her contract and, if she does that, then that’s it. No long service pay,” he added.

Villafuerte said that they asked that foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) who at least finish two years with their employer should also “automatically” get severance pay.

Villafuerte said Hong Kong officials promised to study the PCG request but noted that HK labor rules had also set certain “requirements” for FDHs to get their long service pay.

Under existing labor regulations, an employer should give an FDH her long service pay if she had been employed continuously for not less than five years and is “dismissed (or his/her contract is not renewed) by reason other than serious misconduct or redundancy.”

An employer is also not required to give both long service pay and severance pay to their foreign domestic worker.

Besides Villafuerte, those who attended the TWG for the Philippine side included Deputy Consul General Germinia V. Aguilar-Usudan, Consul Paul Saret, Assistant Labor Attache Angelica M. Sunga, Attache Virsie Tamayao, and Attache Joel Oronan.

The HK government was represented by Labour Department officials Senior Administrative Officer Renita Au, Senior Labour Officer Karen Fung, and Executive Officer Cyan Sum.

Chief Immigration Officer Marisa Hiu and Senior Immigration Officer Cheung Kiu-tai were also present.

The PCG also raised the Immigration rule on the repatriation of skilled or professional Filipino workers from HK.

The consulate said that some employers required skilled workers to absolve them of their responsibility to repatriate the worker if something happens to him.

The PCG also noted that, under Immigration Form 990B, employers of skilled workers are required to repatriate them only if they had finished their contract.

The consulate expressed its concern about professionals who might have an accident in the middle of their contract’s duration.

The PCG also asked that the standard employment contract of FDHs should specify their free airplane baggage allowance when they go home to the Philippines.