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What to do if your domestic helper tests positive for COVID in the Philippines before returning to Hong Kong?
This is a developing situation. We will do our best to keep this information updated and ensure accuracy. Please check with the relevant organisations.
Though travel restrictions are slowly easing across the globe, Covid-19 still makes things more complicated so it’s best to be prepared. We’ve created a guide on what to do if your helper is traveling home to the Philippines for their home leave or annual leave and tests positive for COVID-19 before returning to Hong Kong.
Isolation and quarantine requirements:
If your helper tests positive in the Philippines, he/she will need to isolate 7-21 days depending on the severity of their case. Refer here to understand how long your helper would need to be in isolation/quarantine. Read more on what to do on the Philippines Department of Health website. We advise you to keep referring to the relevant government authority on the most updated requirements.
Medical treatment & expenses:
A COVID-19 patient’s hospitalization cost in the Philippines will vary depending on the severity of the condition, the hospital where the patient is admitted, confinement duration, and other factors. Hospital expenses could range from PHP 15,000 to PHP 200,000 or more. Under the Universal Healthcare Act, all Filipino citizens confined in any PhilHealth-accredited public or private hospital due to COVID-19 are entitled to financial support from the government. If you are a member of PhilHealth, PhilHealth will cover COVID-19 testing and hospitalization for its members up to a certain amount based on its case rates for COVID patients. If your helper has purchased a personal insurance package and it covers COVID-19 treatment, then the hospital treatment expenses will be lower. Or he/she may not have to pay anything at all if the insurance coverage is enough to pay for the balance.
If your helper has possible COVID-19 symptoms while in the Philippines, they can call any of the following Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 24/7 emergency hotlines to seek help or ask questions about their condition:
- DOH COVID-19 Hotline: (02) 8 952-6843
- For PLDT, Smart, Sun, and TNT subscribers: 1555
Hotel and flights:
Unfortunately, if your helper cannot make it back for the booked departure date, you will need to rearrange the hotel booking, flights and the various other entry requirements into Hong Kong such as COVID tests. Make sure you do this as soon as possible as hotel bookings are in high demand at the moment. You should ask the hotel if you can change the date or you may need to book a new quarantine hotel. When booking hotels, try to book a hotel that allows free changes when relevant proof can be provided. When booking flights, try to book a flight ticket that allows free cancellation or changes.
Although domestic helpers are not entitled to sick leave if they fall sick in the Philippines because the sick leave must be supported by an appropriate medical certificate issued by a Hong Kong registered doctor. However, we advise employers to come to a mutual agreement to allow the worker to take unpaid leave. We encourage employers to be considerate and show understanding to the situation of such employees and make flexible arrangements. This will help maintain good employer-employee management relations and build a better relationship in the long run. Remember, it is illegal for employers to terminate their workers if they are sick.
Pre-departure COVID tests:
After your helper has completed the isolation requirements and has recovered from COVID-19, there are two options to fulfill the pre-departure test requirement in order to return back to Hong Kong:
Option 1: Provide a negative result proof of a PCR-based nucleic acid test for COVID-19 with the sample taken within 48 hours before the scheduled time of departure of the specified aircraft; or
Option 2: Provide documentary proof to show that they were infected with the virus 14 to 90 days before the scheduled day of departure AND a negative result proof of a rapid antigen test (RAT) with the sample taken within 24 hours before the scheduled time of departure of the specified aircraft.
All documentation proof and reports should be in English or Chinese. The test report must match that of the relevant inbound person matching that in his/her valid travel document.
Here are commonly acceptable proof of recent infection :
- a certification issued by a medical practitioner;
- a test report showing a positive result of polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based nucleic acid test for COVID-19 issued by a laboratory or healthcare institution;
- hospital’s discharge summary;
- isolation order; or
- official letter, email notification issued by a relevant authority etc. indicating date of infection or the date of positive test.
Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC):
If your worker is travelling back to her home for vacation, he/she would need to obtain an OEC by themselves so he/she could exit the Philippines and return to Hong Kong.
If your helper has stayed in the Philippines longer than expected due to COVID or other circumstances, double check the OEC validity to make sure the OEC is not expired before leaving the Philippines. Remember the OEC is valid for 60 days from the first day it is issued. If the OEC has expired already on the departure date then they would need to re-apply for the OEC. Read more on OEC here.
Other points to note:
- It is illegal to terminate a domestic worker for being tested COVID-19 positive even if they are in the Philippines. Employers should not terminate the contract for the reason that the domestic helper has tested positive for COVID-19. Read more here: The Hong Kong Government has advised this would be a violation of the Employment Ordinance and/or Disability Discrimination Ordinance.
- Contact your agency immediately to update them on the situation. Your agency may be able to provide you guidance and support at this time. At Fair Employment Agency, we have our dedicated Client Care team to support our employers and workers. Please do reach out to us if Fair Employment Agency is your agency.
- For a healthy relationship, employers should maintain regular communication and check in with your helper to understand their needs and health situation so that you can make the necessary arrangements for their return to Hong Kong.
You may also like:
- Quick guide for Employers of Domestic Helpers
- COVID-19 updates affecting domestic helpers & employers
- Can domestic helpers get vaccines in the Philippines before coming to Hong Kong?
- FAQs on the Covid-19 vaccine programme for domestic helpers
- How can domestic helpers get a visa extension?
- Do I need domestic helper insurance during employment?
- Do I have to pay for a domestic helper’s medical expenses?
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Last updated on August 31st, 2022