Five Filipina domestic workers terminated after testing positive for COVID-19 [UPDATED with more details about the Disability Discrimination Ordinance]
They flew to Hong Kong hoping to start their jobs as foreign domestic workers, but they found themselves terminated right away after contracting the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Employment updates gathered by Hong Kong News through unimpeachable sources showed that five Filipinos who flew to Hong Kong in July lost their jobs after they tested positive for COVID-19, an illness which has infected at least 4, 080 and killed 52 in the city as of Aug. 10.
Hong Kong’s travel protocols requires all incoming passengers from high-risk areas such as Indonesia and the Philippines – where most of the city’s almost 400,000 foreign domestic domestic workers come from – to be tested and sent to a 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
The Hong Kong government expanded traveling requirements for such passengers starting July 25, where they were first made to obtain a medical certificate showing that they tested negative for COVID-19 before they can board their flight to Hong Kong. They will be tested again upon their arrival in the city.
Over 30 Filipina domestic workers who were tested in Hong Kong since late July have been confirmed to have contracted the disease. Out of these, 5 have been let go by their employers.
Hong Kong News earlier quoted from an Equal Opportunities Commission briefer on COVID-19 issued in July 2020, which said the following:
“The novel coronavirus falls within the definition of disability under the DDO, which includes the presence of organisms causing or capable of causing disease or illness in the body1. The DDO also covers disability that is “imputed” to a person, i.e.thought or suspected to exist in a person,” the EOC said in July.
“However, under the DDO, it is not unlawful to discriminate against an employee with a disability if: (i) the disability is an infectious disease listed under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (e.g. COVID-19); AND (ii) the discriminatory act is reasonably necessary to protect public health.”
The said information as previously presented in our initial report does not unfortunately convey all the conditions or the complete picture, however and to address and correct any confusion which we may have regretfully inadvertently caused, we are quoting in verbatim what Sam Ho, EOC’s corporate communications manager relayed to us:
Foreign domestic workers have 14 days to find a new employer, though new policies introduced by the Labour Department since February have enabled them to file for a one-month visa extension and find new employers here under a visitor visa.