Special notes on termination while coronavirus restrictions are in place
The current COVID-19 situation poses great uncertainty for employers and workers who may be planning to part ways. FEA has gathered a few important notes for you to take into consideration when parting ways during this difficult time. These notes should be read along with our article on the general termination process HERE.
Special Circumstances to Keep in Mind
If the Employer or Worker is not in Hong Kong
The Standard Employment Contract does not require the employer or worker to be physically present in Hong Kong to end the contract as long as the paperwork requirements and termination entitlements are fulfilled.
As the employer, if you have to end the contract when you are outside of Hong Kong, plan ahead to make sure communication, paperwork and remittance are done properly. It will be easier for the worker to find support in Hong Kong than in the Philippines. Similarly, as most employers prefer to interview workers in person, if the contract is ended while the worker is in the Philippines, it may make it more difficult for them to look for new employment. Before beginning the termination process, we suggest that you reach out to your agency for information and support.
Challenges in Making Flight Arrangement
Due to travel restrictions, there are limited flights and flights may be cancelled with short notice. There are quarantine requirements upon arrival in the Philippines: HERE.
- You may choose to provide either a flight ticket or cash equivalent (including a basic check-in luggage allowance). With the limited flight options, expect flights to be more expensive than usual. Even so, it is your responsibility as the employer to cover the full fare for the worker. We recommend you to include a screenshot of the current flight costs in the termination documents for clear documentation.
- See guide by Labour Department on this. Many employers provide cash equivalent as they can leave the flight arrangements to the domestic helper instead.
- If the contract is ending due to relocation, the domestic helper is able to process her next visa in Hong Kong. In this case, for convenience’s sake, it is recommended to settle with cash at a mutually agreed amount.
Lack of Domestic Travel Options from the airport in Manila
As the employer, according to the Standard Employment Contract (SEC), you are required to provide the worker with transportation all the way to their place of origin. Please note that during this time of virus-related restrictions, public transportation and non-essential travel in and out of the Luzon area, and other areas of the Philippines is suspended – including the city of Manila where the most accessible international airport in the country is located. We encourage employers to be mindful of the travel restrictions faced by workers and to provide additional budget for transportation and other relevant ad-hoc expenses where possible to cover the worker’s journey to their place of origin.
Here are a few tips depending on where your worker’s place origin is located:
- Manila and metro Manila area: The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) provides a free bus service for Overseas Workers including domestic helpers, 3 times a day: 7 am, 12 pm, and 6 pm. Routes service the Manila area from the Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
- Luzon and areas outside of Luzon: Since public transportation and domestic flight situations remain unclear, workers are advised to seek assistance at the OWWA counter at the Manila Airport first. OWWA staff member will arrange accommodation for workers to undergo the quarantine first
- OWWA Hotline 1348;
- OWWA Counter (NAIA Terminal 1) – 09275781306;
- OWWA Counter (NAIA Terminal 2) – 09954825372;
- OWWA Counter (NAIA Terminal 3) – 09275781308;
- OWWA Repatriation Assistance Division
- (02) 88917601 local 5212 , 5213
- (02) 85516648.
See more on the travel situation: HERE.
Consideration for Potential Expenses along with Termination Entitlements
- A food and travelling allowance of HK$100 per day should be paid to the worker as required in the SEC (Clause 7b). In a normal situation, most employers will settle this item with an amount from $100 to $300 as a reasonable expectation of the duration of travel. With the challenging situation of flight and domestic travel in mind, you are advised to prepare for additional payments to support the worker through the journey.
- Since there is a possibility of workers being unable to return to the Philippines due to the above transport constraints, we would advise you to include potential expenses such as visa extension fees (HKD $230), accommodation fees, extra transportation expenses, when settling termination entitlement.
Get your Agency Involved
Always make sure to inform your agency about any plans for terminating a contract as it is a requirement for agencies to report terminations to the relevant Consulates. As the employer, notifying the employment agency is also a way to protect yourself in order to avoid potential claims or inclusion into the Consulates’ Employer Watch-lists. When you do this, please make sure to also provide a copy of the signed termination documents. At Fair Agency we continue to provide support to our employers and workers to navigate employment challenges in these difficult times. If you are planning or considering to end your contract, please reach out to us so that we can help you through this.
Difficulties in Management
The coronavirus situation has added new challenges to working relationships between employers and domestic helpers. Your agency may be able to provide you guidance and support at this time. At Fair Employment Agency, we have our dedicated Client Care team to support our employers and workers. Please do reach out to us if Fair Employment Agency is your agency.
If you need additional support on how to manage your helper during this unique time, Helpwise offers practical and personalized advice for employers. Reach out to Helpwise to book a phone consultation that could guide you to solutions that work for your household. HERE
Read the general procedures for parting ways and terminating contract: HERE
Assistance to Overseas Filipino Workers who have had their contracts terminated due to COVID-19
The Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) recently announced that local and overseas workers whose employment has been affected by COVID-19 will be provided government assistance. Overseas workers who are eligible for this assistance will receive financial assistance of ten thousand pesos. See announcement: HERE. Enquiries and applications will need to be made at the Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA) office in the Philippines. This application form must be filled in, HERE.
We advise domestic helpers who had their contracts terminated during this time to make sure to get a copy of all their termination documents, so they can also present these to OWWA along with the application form. Please read our guide on termination documents and entitlements: HERE, and also there are special considerations we encourage employers to take during this time: HERE.
Before leaving Hong Kong, contact the OWWA office in Hong Kong to inquire about the assistance to workers affected by COVID-19. After arriving in the Philippines, contact the local OWWA office to present your documents and receive assistance if you qualify.
OWWA Hong Kong
- Address: Office No.2. 29/F United Centre,
No. 95 Queensway Admiralty, Hong Kong
- Tel: 3483 0600
- Emergency Hotline: 6345 9324
- Website: http://www.owwa.gov.ph/
- Facebook: OWWA Hong Kong
- Hotline in Manila at 1348.
- NAIA OWWA Counters – Terminal 1: 09275781306; Terminal 2: 09954825372; Terminal 3: 09275781308;
- OWWA Repatriation Assistance Division. (02) 88917601
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Last updated on March 15th, 2021