Hong Kong – Baby Jane Allas, a Filipino domestic helper in Hong Kong, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in January 2019. A month later, her employers ended her contract, severing her access to healthcare and treatment in Hong Kong.
Under Hong Kong laws, employed domestic helpers can go on paid medical leave and seek treatment in hospitals.
Allas, 38 and a single mother of five children, now faces unemployment and a serious illness.
She has sought support from and filed complaints at the Labour Department as well as the Equal Opportunities Commission saying that she was wrongfully terminated and discriminated against because of her disability, the South China Morning Post reported.
Her employers defended themselves, saying they did not end her contract because she had been diagnosed with cancer, but the dismissal letter Allas received from her employers clearly stated that “Given your medical condition, I am no longer able to continue your employment effective from 19 February 2019.”
Before her unlawful termination, Allas had already suffered much abuse from her employers. She said she had not been provided with enough food or even a bed to sleep in but was made to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs.
In addition, Allas claimed that her employers did not allow her to take the government-mandated day-off per week but instead made her work long overtime hours on Sundays.
Allas said that her employers also failed to pay her wages since January 13 of this year.
Because her family relies on her for financial support, Allas cannot go back to the Philippines and needs to find a job again soon.
She has considered seeking treatment back home, but it would be much more difficult and tedious to apply for government subsidized healthcare and medical treatment because of her advanced stage cancer.
Concerned citizens have set up a page to raise funds to help pay for Allas’s medical treatment since she no longer has lawful access to Hong Kong’s free healthcare because of her unemployment.
Hong Kong has more than 340,380 domestic helpers, the majority of which come from the Philippines and Indonesia.
The helpers often face abuse from their employers but the lack of government intervention does little to protect the workers from exploitation, nor apprehend the employers for wrongdoing.