Hong Kong Domestic Helpers who Contracted COVID Left Homeless

Hong Kong support groups have said Wednesday that live-in domestic workers in Hong Kong were left homeless after being diagnosed with COVID-19, and their employers fired them or refused their return to the residence.

A  non-government organization Health Education and Literacy Program (HELP), said they were assisting more than 100 workers, including at least a dozen who got fired or ordered not to return to the residence.

Manisha Wijesinghe, HELP’s executive director said many employers were scared of being sent to quarantine facilities as close contacts of the ill worker.

“It’s the fear that’s driving everybody at the moment. But leaving the women homeless, some for up to three or four nights in Hong Kong’s winter, was “untenable,” Wijesinghe said.

“We understand that it is a scary time, and everyone is worried for their safety, for their children and family’s safety, but the thing is the domestic worker is also part of the family. They are the ones that take care of you on a day-to-day basis,” Wijesinghe added.

On Tuesday, Philippines Consul General Raly Tejada said it is illegal and immoral to fire a worker because she is COVID-19 positive. 

“If it can be proven that they were asked to leave because of their sickness, this can be considered an illegal dismissal under the employment ordinance in Hong Kong,” Tejada said.

“It is also immoral,” Tejada added.

An estimated 390,000 domestic workers are employed in Hong Kong, working six days a week for a salary of US$593 a month plus food and board.

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