man staring at the flight board in airport

Everything you need to know about the Philippine Travel Ban

Hundred of Filipino domestic workers have been denied flying from and to Hong Kong since the novel outbreak. The Philippine government has issued the temporary two-way ban since 4 February 2020. It is said that visitors arriving from China, including Hong Kong and Macau, will not be allowed to enter the Philippines while Filipinos returning home will be quarantined for 14 days. Filipinos are also banned from travelling to China. Due to this developing situation, the flights connecting Hong Kong and the Philippines are becoming scarcer. 

Here is some advice for both Hong Kong employers and Filipino foreign domestic helpers, if you concern about how this travel ban might affect the employment contracts.

Employers:

What can you do if your existing FDH, whose contract is finishing between February 5 and the end of March, but the FDHs you intend to hire cannot fly in to commence the new contracts due to the temporary ban?

In response to the temporary travel ban by the Philippine Government, the Hong Kong Labour Department gave in-principle consent for all foreign domestic workers’ contracts that expire on or before March 31 to be extended up to May 31. 

According to the Standard (SEC),  if employers intend to extend the period of employment of their existing FDHs by not more than one month, there are 5 essential items needed for submitting the application: 

  1. Visa/Extension of Stay Application Form for Domestic Helper from Abroad (ID 988A) completed and signed by the FDH;
  2. Current Standard Employment Contract (407) (please send copy only if applying by post) kept by the employer and the FDH with an amendment clause on extending the period of employment duly signed by both parties at the end of page 4;
  3. A supporting letter signed by the employer stating the reason(s) for extending the period of employment;
  4. FDH’s travel document (please send copy only if applying by post);
  5. Visa fee of $230

In addition, if employers intend to extend the period of employment of their existing FDHs for more than one month, prior consent from the Commissioner for Labour is required.

Salary Arrangement 

According to the Hong Kong Labour Department, employers and their domestic helper can decide whether the salary is given. Employers can certainly still give their helpers salary. However, it is legal to not give it if the domestic helpers are not working during their stay unless the arrangement in such situation has already been defined and specified in the employment contracts. 

It is advised that employers should allow flexibility on this matter and should discuss with their domestic helper to reach an agreement. 

You may contact the Labour Department for more details,
Tel:  2717 1771 / 2157 9537 
Online inquiry:https://www.fdh.labour.gov.hk/en/contact_us.html

Filipino Domestic Helpers:

What can you do if your flight back to the Philippines got cancelled and now you are stranded in Hong Kong?

Here are 4 steps you could do.

1. Ask for a refund from your airline

Check your airline or travel agent for a refund, rebook or reroute, depending on your needs.
The following table is the updates (as of 17 February 2020)  and contact information of commonly used airlines connecting Hong Kong to the Philippines: 

Airline Flight bookings period  Cancellation and refundRebooking/ ReroutingMore information 
Cathay Pacific4 Feb – 31 Mar, 2020✓ ( waive on cancellation and refund charges)
(charges will be waived on conditions) 
Special ticketing guidelines for the Philippines: +852-2747-3333,  Manage Booking Online
Cathay Dragon4 Feb – 31 Mar, 2020✓ ( waive on cancellation and refund charges)
(charges will be waived on conditions) 
Special ticketing guidelines for the Philippines: +852-2747-3333,  Manage Booking Online
PhilippineAirlines10 Feb – 28 Mar, 2020
✓ ( waive on refund charges)✓ ( waive on rebooking and rerouting charges)Refund Policy:  +632-8855-8888
Cebu Pacific7 Feb – 31 Mar, 2020
( waive on any applicable charges)

( waive on any applicable charges)
Refund Policy: +852-397-33800, +632-8702-0888, +6332-230-8888
Hong KongAirlinesLimited flights conntecting between Hong Kong and Manila from 1 Feb to 29 Mar, 2020.  No information shown.
(on conditions) 
Refund PolicyEmail: call.center@hkairlines.com Hotline: +852-3916-3666
AirAsia Applicable for affected flights until 31 Mar, 2020.✓ (full refund)  No information shown. Refund Policy: Follow directions on the Refund Policy link. Or chat here.

2. Check alternative flights

If you are determined to return to the Philippines, you should check the alternative flights. As of 17 February 2020, there are still a few airlines operating flights between Manila and Hong Kong. You might find it on here. Any changes in flight status subjected to the corresponding airline latest announcement. It is recommended to purchase directly from the airline website instead of 3rd party travel agencies. 

Remarks: The government also instructs all Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visas that a 14-day quarantine is necessary for those to return to the Philippines travelling from Hong Kong, China and Macao. See the details here.

3. Ask for a tourist visa

If you don’t’ have any luck in getting any flight options, go to the Immigration Tower ( 3/F, Counter 2 ) in Wan Chai to ask for a tourist visa in Hong Kong with the following items:
– your flight information
– the written confirmation about your flight cancellation
– your passport

4. Seek for accommodation

Once you have secured your tourist visa, you should check with your agency about boarding house space, or seek for shelters.

If you are not able to find a boarding space or need any assistance, you could seek help in the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) office.
Address: A16/F, YF Life Tower, 33 Lockhart Road, Wanchai. 
Tel: 3483 0600
Emergency hotline: 6345 9324

What can you do if your flight to Hong Kong got cancelled and now you are stranded in the Philippines?

HelperChoice Bank Accounts Guide for Domestic Helpers

The OWWA has been tasked to give each stranded Filipino worker 10,000 PHP in cash, dormitories and transportation. The Labor Department will also pay for their airfare if they opt to go back to their provinces. For more information, please see here.

Affected OFWs are encouraged to personally visit the OWWA office and avail the aid. It takes one day for processing and the recipient can immediately claim the financial aid. 

To avail the cash assistance, 4 items ought to be prepared for the processing:  

  1. Plane ticket
  2. Valid passport 
  3. Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)
  4. Valid employment contract/ work permit 

For the address of each OWWA office location, please visit here


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