Despite settling a dispute with her former employer over allegedly unpaid wages and other matters, a Filipino domestic worker in Hong Kong ran up against another hurdle: Her ex-boss would not give back her passport.
Charibel Caban had gone to the Labor Tribunal on June 20 to claim HK$8,250 (US$1,050) from her former employer Lee Wai for one month’s wages in lieu of notice, payment for seven days of annual leave, seven day’s wage arrears, an air ticket and HK$100 in travel and food allowances, sunwebhk.com reported.
In a counterclaim, Lee sought payment of wages in lieu of notice from Caban, saying the maid had left the apartment in Shatin, New Territories, on her own after an argument on March 29.
The tribunal’s presiding officer Daniel Tang warned that the case would go to trial if the two sides could not reach a settlement, and they would have to wait another three months for a ruling.
As another employer was willing to hire Caban, she dropped her wages-in-lieu claim while Lee withdrew her counterclaim.
Caban settled for a total of HK$3,940 as payment for her annual leave, arrears in wages, air tickets, and travel and food allowances. However, she told the officer that Lee had kept not only her current passport but her old one as well.
Tang told Caban that she should report this problem to the police as it is against the law in Hong Kong to keep the personal documents of another person.
Caban said she had gone twice to the Shatin Police to report the passport problem but no one would act on her complaint.
She also asked the assistance to nationals section of the Philippine Consulate for help, and was issued a one-way travel document and told to apply for a new passport back home.
Caban applied for an extension of her visa on June 25, but was given only two days to remain in Hong Kong.