Domestic workers in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Times

The Philippines Overseas Labor Office in Hong Kong has abandoned a plan to require a mandatory pre-employment health check-up for all Filipino domestic workers after consultation with community leaders who mostly opposed the idea.

Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre met with about 40 community leaders in the Wanchai office on Sunday and decided to abandon the plan, but he added that a medical check-up was still a must for all workers, reported.

On January 8, the labor official issued an advisory to agencies imposing the mandatory check-up as an additional requirement for contract processing of all categories of domestic workers.

The idea came after the release of the results of Project HealthWise, which showed a worrying increase in the number of Filipino workers contracting cancer or other serious ailments in Hong Kong.

However, due to strong initial opposition from some leaders, the labor attaché recalled the advisory within hours. Most of the Filcom leaders acknowledged that the advisory was prompted by the labor attaché’s concern about the worrying state of health of workers in the city.

But they cited the reason for their opposition was the likelihood that a worker who did not get a “fit to work” certificate would be terminated.

The leaders said many employers still allowed their employees to continue working even if they had ailments, but now they can use the mandatory check-up and “fit to work” requirements as an excuse to fire an incumbent worker or reject an applicant.

It would be better to require the mandatory check-up “within,” rather than “before” the contract, the leader suggested. But they agreed this would be difficult to implement as it would require the amendment of the standard employment contract through legislation.

Read: Push to make medical tests for domestic workers mandatory

Read: Free checkups reveal Filipino workers with hypertension

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