A Filipina domestic worker diagnosed with cervical cancer may lose access to free healthcare after being fired by her employer in Hong Kong.
Baby Jane Allas, 38, received her dismissal letter on Feb. 17 while on paid medical leave — a detail her employer denies.
“She was not fired while she was on sick leave. It was effective from after she finished her sick leave,” her female employer told the South China Morning Post.
A foreign domestic worker fired in Hong Kong must leave the city in two weeks. Additionally, they lose access to free healthcare, which all residents are entitled to.
Allas arrived in Hong Kong in 2017. On Jan. 20, she was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer and given sick leave.
“I feel so upset,” the mother-of-five told SCMP. “My main concern is: how am I going to get medical care and the meds I need?”
Allas left her employer’s residence on Feb. 19. While battling her condition, she is fighting to stay in Hong Kong on the grounds that she was illegally terminated.
In a Labour Department complaint, Allas argued that it is unlawful to fire an employee on paid sick leave.
She also claimed that her employer had violated parts of her contract, including failure to give her one day off each week and basic necessities, as she slept on a cupboard without a bed.
She also launched a complaint to the Equal Opportunities Commission, arguing that it is unlawful to discriminate a person with disability.
Allas’s future remains unclear. Aside from taking legal action, she has applied for a visa extension, although such will not grant her free healthcare. For now, an online campaign seeks to support her treatment needs.
“Due to her cancer diagnosis, she cannot be hired by a new employer,” said Jessica Papadopoulos, a Hong Kong resident who has employed Allas’s sister, Mary Anne, since 2015.
Papadopoulos, who started the fundraising campaign, currently shoulders part of Allas’s expenses.
“We would happily employ her ourselves but she cannot be hired under a new contract with an active advanced cancer diagnosis … Once she has received treatment, we will work to place her with a new family and she is eager to go back to work.”
Images via GoGetFunding / Jessica Papadopoulos