6,000 employers on POLO watchlist

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The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Wan Chai

 

MORE than 6,000 employers of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong had been included in the watchlist of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), according to its latest data.

The number of HK employers on the watchlist reached 6,034 at the end of 2018 while 57 more names were added as of January 24, the POLO said.

Labor Attache Jalilo Dela Torre said these employers were put on the watchlist after their Filipino domestic workers complained about inadequate accommodation, “lack of rest, (lack of) food, and (making) false accusations.”

“If there’s food allowance, that’s good. But if not and there’s not enough food, hindi maganda yun,” Dela Torre said in an interview.

The POLO started the watchlist in 2006 and employers included in the list cannot hire a Filipino domestic worker unless they personally go to the POLO in Wan Chai to disprove the accusations against them.

The POLO informs the employment agency and would schedule an interview with the employer.

“When employers find out that they are watchlisted, they come here to give their side of the story. If we see that there’s no basis—sometimes (the FDH) would have the employer listed and then they go home (to the Philippines) or the employer presents evidence that they should not be included—then we take them off the watchlist,” Dela Torre said.

“There is due process. We get not just the side of the worker,” he added.

The other reasons for being put on the watchlist include employers who frequently terminate FDHs, refusing to settle the FDH’s last salary, or not paying for her return flight to the Philippines.

The number of employers on the POLO watchlist had grown over the years. It reached 4,990 in July 2016 before going up to 5,791 June 2017.

“As the workers get more aware that there is this process, that (the increasing number) is a natural thing to occur,” Dela Torre said.

The POLO began listing names of abusive employers after popular Cantopop singer Jacky Cheung accused his domestic worker, Preslyn Catacutan, of stealing a letter and three photos from him in 2006.

His name was included in the list after it was discovered that he had 21 domestic helpers in just three years.

Dela Torre also said that workers who are about to get their long service pay but are accused of wrongdoing should file a complaint with the Labour Department.

“You can take it up with the Labour Department and Labour will look into it. After the expiration of the second contract, e di four years na yun, another year ma-entitle na siya, if the conditions are there,” he said.

“Pagbinigyan siya ng false accusation para lang maka-escape sa payment, she has to show na wala naman siyang bad record tapos pinalitan siya ng bago,” he added.

Dela Torre also said that the POLO and consulate would continue to push for the Hong Kong government to require employers to give adequate rest hours to FDHs and make the food allowance mandatory.

“We will continue to push that. Hindi lang naman yan ngayon. Matagal na yan pinupush,” he said.

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