• Fri
  • Oct 24, 2014
  • Updated: 3:29am
NewsHong Kong

Anger over HK$90 rise in monthly minimum wage for domestic workers

Disappointed unions say new minimum wage is still only HK$150 more than it was 15 years ago and predict it will deepen shortage of recruits

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 9:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 October, 2013, 10:44am


  • Yes: 18%
  • No: 82%
1 Oct 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 318

Domestic helpers who sign contracts from today will get an additional HK$90 a month after a government decision that upset the workers but pleased their employers.

The new monthly minimum wage is HK$4,010 and helpers whose bosses do not provide food will have their monthly allowance raised by HK$45 to HK$920 a month.

Helpers' unions said that after reductions and freezes during recent tough economic times, the new wage was only HK$150 a month above the 1998 level.

Eman Villanueva, spokesman for the Asian Migrants' Co-ordinating Body, was "very disappointed and angered" by the 2.3 per cent increase and said the supply of helpers would become even more restricted.

He said he made it clear to the Labour Department at a recent meeting that monthly minimum pay should rise to HK$4,500.

But Joseph Law Kwan-din, chairman of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association, said the government had taken employers' ability to pay into consideration.

He said Hong Kong should still be able to recruit a sufficient number of helpers because of poorer employment conditions in places such as Taiwan, where helpers are given fewer public holidays off.

A government spokesman said the increase was set "after careful consideration of the economic indicators".

He said it was also necessary to strike a balance between what employers could afford and the livelihoods of the helpers.

Helen Bulusan, who has been working in the city for 11 years, said she was very disappointed.

She said some helpers needed to spend HK$1,200 a month on food because employers offered only simple meals such as bread.

Along with other expenses such as phone bills, many helpers had only HK$2,500 left at the end of the month.

Villanueva said a bigger pay rise was justified because of high inflation. He said the wage level had not risen sufficiently over the years and pointed out it was HK$3,860 in 1998.

"I think the shortage [of helpers] will worsen because the wage is not attractive," he said.

"In Canada, the minimum wage for foreign domestic helpers is the same as for the locals.

"New York and California have also approved a bill of rights to give the same minimum wage level to locals and to foreign domestic workers."

The minimum wage in Canada differs among provinces, but it is about C$10 (HK$75) an hour.

The minimum monthly wages for helpers in Taiwan and Singapore are about HK$4,100 and HK$3,000 respectively.

There are more than 300,000 foreign helpers in Hong Kong at present, mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia.

As the governments in Manila and Jakarta are planning policies to discourage their citizens from working as helpers overseas, agencies are looking to Bangladesh for new recruits.

There are currently about 100 Bangladeshi helpers in the city.

Technic Employment Service Centre chief Teresa Liu Tsui-lan said Hongkongers were once able to choose helpers from several candidates, but now had to take those offered by agencies.



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Hong Kong acts as an employer and Philippines / Indonesia act as an employee. Domestic Helpers have the ability to apply to any country to work and do so. They can and do try and go to the country that will pay them the most. (They are highly mobile looking for the best payment).
Hong Kong as an employer needs to pay at a level to attract the quality / quantity of worker required (just like any employer).
It appears Hong Kong has analysed what it's closest competitors pay (Taiwan / Singapore) pay and competed on pay / benefits.
US /UK/CA are not competitors of Hong Kong as they take just a fraction of the 300,000 taken by Hong Kong. Western countries also have much more stringent requirements for immigrants than HK.
Perhaps if your means do not allow you to pay an extra 90 HKD per month to someone who cooks your means, washes your clothes, takes care of the elderly and kids, then you should not have a helper and instead save your pennies. Cheap buggers. You should be ashamed of yourselves, but my guess is a feeling of shame and compassion are not in your DNA.
The proposed increase is 2.3%. Did you think local workers get a phenomenal raise annually from their employers? And they face the full brunt of the increased cost of living in HK, whereas domestic helpers appear from another comment here to be exposed mainly to the cost of phone bills. DHs are employed to cook, wash etc., and have been assessed by the Govt to be worth a specific salary. If you don't agree with it, by all means choose another profession or place of work. There is no need to denigrate the HK public.
many cases of friends bringing their maids along on holidays to Canada, and they "run away" while there.
it's not like US/UK/Canada are opening the gates to enter for maids in those countries.




SCMP.com Account