Baby Jane Allas is a domestic helper working in Hong Kong. She was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer in January and was prescribed by her doctor to take a paid medical leave. Unfortunately, in the middle of her medical leave, she was fired for no fault of her own.
Allas’ dismissal letter explicitly states her health as being the main consideration of her discharge. Not only is this morally contemptible, but it is also plainly illegal. A case has already been filed with Hong Kong’s labor department for “flouting Hong Kong’s Employment Ordinance that says it is unlawful to dismiss an employee who is on paid sick leave.” Additionally, Allas reported her former employers for failing to afford her a full day off each week and making her sleep in the cupboard under the stairs without a bed.
Despite her undertaking, many fear that no action will be done against her employers and Allas will be left disadvantaged. Legal experts share that “the dismissal of foreign domestic workers because of serious illnesses is common in Hong Kong. But little has been done to prevent it or to support the workers in trouble.”
Because of that, Baby Jane Allas has been forced into a difficult spot. She the sole breadwinner for her family of five and may not have the funds to pay for her cancer treatment. She had been depending on free medical care which is afforded to all residents of the city. Without an employment contract, she loses the right to stay in Hong Kong and access to their healthcare.
She has already applied for a visa extension in order to begin her cancer treatments in the city. The cancer is at such a late stage that she is advised to complete the treatment in Hong Kong rather than the Philippines. An online fundraising page is up in order to help alleviate the costs.
Ultimately, her health is the most important (and most worrying) part of this story. Being unfairly persecuted for things beyond her control is sickeningly unjustified. Allas shares that “[her] main concern is: how am I going to get medical care and the meds I need?”
What do you think can be done to help OFWs in similar situations?
Sources: South China Morning Post