Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Minimum wage for Hong Kong’s domestic workers to rise 2.4 per cent to HK$4,310, but union says level is ‘not liveable’

Domestic helpers express disappointment with the decision, having pushed for a HK$5,000 minimum salary

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 September, 2016, 7:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 September, 2016, 11:23pm

The minimum wage for domestic workers in Hong Kong will rise from HK$4,210 to HK$4,310 per month – a 2.4 per cent increase.

The raise is the same as the amount they received last year.

But domestic helpers are disappointed with the decision, having pushed for a HK$5,000 minimum salary.

The government announced the latest increase on Friday.

“That’s very far from what we were expecting, especially considering that our demand was reasonable,” Dolores Balladares, spokeswoman for the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, said. “We are not happy and we wonder how the government came up with those figures ... This is not a liveable wage in Hong Kong. It’s not enough.”

Keeping it to a minimum: bosses standing firm against rise in Hong Kong’s wage floor as they get set to lock horns with unions

According to the law, employers are expected to provide accommodation and free food – or a food allowance – for domestic workers. The allowance will also be increased – by HK$42, or 4.2 per cent – the government said on Friday. This means employers should not pay less than HK$1,037 per month for food allowances. Workers had asked for a minimum of HK$1,600.

The new minimum wage and updated food allowance will apply to all domestic workers who sign contracts on or after Saturday.

“We have carefully considered Hong Kong’s general economic and labour market situations over the last year, as reflected through a basket of economic indicators, including the relevant income movement and price change, in this year’s review,” a government spokesman said.

He said the government had “taken into account Hong Kong’s near-term economic outlook, as well as the need to strike a balance between affordability for employers on the one hand and the livelihood of foreign domestic workers on the other”.

Hong Kong domestic helpers wait on wage review

The minimum wage for other workers in Hong Kong was also under discussion on Friday.

The Minimum Wage Commission was holding what was supposed to be its last meeting to review the wage floor but had not reached a consensus on Friday afternoon.

The commission’s chairman, Jat Sew-tong, said a constructive debate had taken place between employers and workers’ representatives, but they needed more time.

“We are still discussing the statutory minimum wage. There’s nothing we call tell the public,” he said at the end of the meeting.

“We are working on it, we are working very hard, and we are making progress, but we still need some time to discuss further.”

The statutory minimum wage, which is reviewed every two years, currently stands at HK$32.50 an hour.