6,000 Employers of Filipino Domestic Workers in HK on POLO Watchlist

According to its latest data, more than 6,000 employers of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong are now in the watchlist compiled by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).

The names of such employers were included in the watchlist after their Filipino helpers complained of lack of rest and food, inadequate accommodation and making false accusations, said Labor Attache Jalilo Dela Torre. Such offenses are in breach of the Standard Employment Contract signed by both the Filipino domestic workers and their employers.

There were 6,034 employers in the list by the end of 2018. As of January 24, 57 more names were added, in a news report by Hong Kong News, citing POLO.

“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.

In 2006, when popular Cantopop singer Jacky Cheung accused his domestic worker Preslyn Catacutan of theft, the POLO began to compile the list of employers who cannot rehire a Filipino domestic worker until they personally go to POLO and disprove the accusations hurled against them.

“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.

Other grounds for employers to be added into the watchlist include frequent termination of domestic workers, refusal to settle a helper’s final salary, or not paying for the helper’s return flight to the Philippines. Soon as more overseas Filipino workers became aware of the watchlist, the list continued to grow. For instance, from 4,990 in July 2016 the names in the watchlist went up to 5,791 in June 2017.

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.