'We thought we were doing the girl a favour'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 October, 2000, 12:00am

The Mid-Levels family who sacked Ms Sarabuzin say they feel terrible about her illness and thought they were doing the 'decent thing' by letting her go early.

Her former boss said yesterday they had already told Ms Sarabuzin she would have to leave by the end of the year as the family was moving abroad. Two days later, he said, they found out she had cancer.

'We're a good family with two young children and we feel really terrible about this awful situation,' he said. 'I can put my hand on my heart and say it's a very sad situation but we've done what we needed to do. We're not a rich family but if there's anything I can do for her, I will.'

The employer said he had told Ms Sarabuzin the family would be leaving Hong Kong in mid-December and offered to write her a reference to help her find a new job.

'It was only then, after we had told her we were leaving, that she told us of her illness,' he said.

'We asked her if she'd like to leave immediately, still with full pay, because we thought she'd want to go back [to her home in the Philippines]. We thought that was an appropriate gesture. She agreed, packed her bags and left.

'We thought we were doing the girl a favour by saying, 'Here's a cheque to the end of the year, take care of yourself'. We did promise to pay her through to the end of the year because it seems like the decent thing to do.'

Ms Sarabuzin, 34, had worked for the family, who have two young children, for five months when she was dismissed two weeks ago. She believes she was sacked because she was ill. The wife of the employer told the Post on Tuesday that Ms Sarabuzin 'behaved badly' and was moody and that this was a factor in her dismissal.

Her husband said yesterday that the move abroad - rather than a personality issue - was the main factor in their decision. He insisted they told her she would have to leave before they knew of her cancer.

'We did have some concerns about her performance but nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn't an antagonistic issue. We have nothing against her,' he said.

'She can come back to work for us if she wants for six weeks, [until] we leave. But I don't think that would do anybody any good. We're leaving anyway. This is terrible news. What can we do for her? The facts are very simple. The family is leaving.'