A 40-year-old domestic helper has been fined HKD800(around PHP5,138.78) and may lose the right to work in Hong Kong ever again after admitting to eating HKD100 (around PHP642.35) worth of her employer’s meatballs.
Filipina Mildred Nilo Ladia — who, as a domestic worker, isn’t even entitled to minimum wage — wept in court as she plead guilty to one out of two counts of theft. The second charge related to the alleged theft of two pairs of leather slippers and a designer bag, is not being pursued by prosecutors as the alleged theft victim is currently in hospital.
Prior to Ladia’s arrest last May, her former boss, barrister Gekko Lan, had already deducted the HKD100 (PHP642.35) from her HKD4,210(PHP27,038.65) salary, SCMP reports. Ladia, who has three children aged seven to 20, is the sole breadwinner for her family, the court heard.
Defence counsel Theresa Low asked magistrate Jason Wan for an absolute discharge or conditional bind over — both low-level sentences — to allay the “devastating consequences” a criminal conviction would have on Ladia’s employment prospects. Wan refused on the basis that Ladia’s “breach of trust” was a “serious offence”, but said he would not hand down the customary sentence of imprisonment because the meatballs were inexpensive and the 40-year-old had already made financial compensation to Lan.
Under the Standard Employment Contract for hiring foreign domestic helpers (FDH), employers are required to provide FDHs with food free of charge, or pay a food allowance in lieu. For FDH contracts signed between October 1, 2015 and October 1, 2016, employers who choose to pay a food allowance must provide no less than HKD995 a month on top of a HKD4,210 statutory salary.
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