Date
27 May 2017
The Social Welfare Department is waiting for a probate on an employer's estate before it can act on a claim for compensation by her caregiver. Photo: www.hkswea.org
The Social Welfare Department is waiting for a probate on an employer's estate before it can act on a claim for compensation by her caregiver. Photo: www.hkswea.org

Indonesian seeks backpay but won’t dishonor employer’s memory

An Indonesian domestic helper is seeking compensation from the government after her employer died.

Sri Agustini had been looking after Fung Ying, who was paralyzed with muscular atrophy, since 2007.

She was paid under a special arrangement with the Social Welfare Department (SWD), Apple Daily reports.

Agustini is seeking long-service payment and other benefits from SWD worth HK$21,000 for the seven years she cared for Fung who died two years ago.

The claim includes a one-way ticket to Indonesia and payment in lieu of holidays.

Agustini said she was told by SWD to wait until a probate on the estate of the woman and her mother is completed.

The mother, who suffered from a long-term illness, filed the probate on Fung’s estate before the former died in 2015.

SWD also wants proof of the two women’s family relationship, Agustini said.

Leo Tang, organizing secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions who has been helping Agustini with her claim, said the situation has reached a deadlock.

Fung’s sister, Fung Kam-yuen, cannot provide her mother’s birth and death certificates due to her own illness, he said.

In theory, Agustini could sue her deceased employer for unpaid salaries in the Labor Tribunal, Tang said, adding non-payment of such wages is a criminal offense.

He accused SWD of dragging its feet, making potential felons out of Fung’s surviving family members.

Senior barrister Albert Luk said disputes over long-service payment have to go through a lengthy and complicated legal process.

However, he said SWD cannot exercise discretion on the case without opening the floodgates for similar claims.

Luk said Agustini should obtain legal opinions or apply for a faster probate on Fung’s estate by making an oath.

Meanwhile, Agustini ruled out a lawsuit, saying she does not wish to disrespect her employer’s memory or embarrass her family, with whom she has had close ties.

In the seven years she cared for Fung, Agustini said she never took a day off and would wake up in the middle of the night to turn her over to relieve excessive pressure on her muscles. 

Agustini said she and Fung were like sisters.

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