Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong | South China Morning Post
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  • Mar 28, 2015
  • Updated: 9:54am
Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Foreign domestic workers make up around 3 per cent of the Hong Kong population. In 2013, there were some 320,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, of which 50 per cent were from the Philippines, 47 per cent from Indonesia, and the rest from Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Hong Kong law states that such workers must reside with their employers. Their wages are subject to a statutory minimum of HK$4,010 per month from September 30 last year. There have been several high-profile court cases in which domestic workers have alleged torture and abuse at the hands of their employers. According to a 2013 report by Amnesty International, Indonesian migrant domestic workers are at risk of serious human and labour rights violations in Hong Kong.

Ex-civil servant who poured boiling water on maid avoids jail due to medical condition

Au Wai-chun (left) was convicted last month of occasioning actual bodily harm to Begum Raksona (right). Photo: David Wong

A former civil servant convicted of pouring hot water on her Bangladeshi helper was told she had undermined the city's reputation as she was given a suspended six-month jail sentence.

Tuesday, 23 September, 2014, 9:50am

Hong Kong's domestic helpers 'should be paid HK$4,500 a month'

Eman Villanueva says Hong Kong attracts fewer foreign workers. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Domestic helpers in the city are treated as "cheap labour" and should get a wage increase or pay parity with Hongkongers on the minimum wage, the workers' representatives say.

10 Sep 2014 - 5:18pm 62 comments

Ex-civil servant found guilty of scalding maid with boiling water

Au Wai-chun will be sentenced later this month. Photo: David Wong

A former civil servant has been convicted of pouring scalding hot water over a Bangladeshi maid who suffered burns on her chest.

2 Sep 2014 - 7:28am

Hong Kong couple jailed for torturing Indonesian helper fail in appeal bid

Tai Chi-wai (left) and his wife Catherine Au were convicted in September last year. Photos: Sam Tsang

A Hong Kong couple convicted of torturing their Indonesian helper for two years with hot irons and bicycle chains have failed in a bid to appeal the verdict.

28 Aug 2014 - 3:26am

Former civil servant on trial for pouring hot water on Bangladeshi maid

Au Wai-chun enters court in a wheelchair, with bandaged wrists. Photo: Edward Wong

A former civil servant allegedly poured hot water on a Bangladeshi maid, causing her to suffer burns to her chest, the District Court heard.

18 Jul 2014 - 7:51am

Worldwide petition collects 103,000 signatures to end Hong Kong helper abuse

Domestic helpers display posters of alleged abuse victim Erwiana Sulistyaningsih as the petition is handed in at Tamar. Photo: Edward Wong

Human rights groups have collected 103,307 signatures from more than 160 countries calling on the Hong Kong government to take immediate steps to stop the abuse of foreign domestic workers.

28 Apr 2014 - 9:23am 3 comments

Breaking the chains of human trafficking in Hong Kong

Chain reaction

We are at a crossroads. Human trafficking is a human rights violation that cuts across different echelons of society and has a devastating impact not only on its victims but also on the societies where it exists.

10 Apr 2014 - 5:49am 4 comments

Domestic helpers forced to pay agencies '20 times legal rate'

Indonesian domestic workers Fajar Aryani (2nd right) and Yustina (4th left) recall how recruitment agencies did not help them when they were in trouble.

Nearly half of foreign domestic helpers have paid their job agencies more than Hong Kong laws allow, in some cases overpaying by more than 20 times the standard rate, a study shows.

7 Apr 2014 - 10:59am 3 comments

Erwiana to return to Hong Kong to assist in assault case against former employer

Erwiana to return to Hong Kong to assist in assault case against former employer

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, the domestic helper allegedly abused by her employer, will return to Hong Kong next week to help with evidence for the woman's trial.

4 Apr 2014 - 12:11pm

Hong Kong can have zero tolerance for forced labour by domestic helpers

Helpers on their day off in Central. Photo: David Wong

Hong Kong has an armoury of options for prosecuting offences associated with human trafficking under the Crimes Ordinance, Immigration Ordinance or Offences Against the Person Ordinance, with deterrent maximum penalties ranging from 10 years to life in jail. But according to critics, the law tends to focus on trafficking for the purpose of prostitution rather than, say, for forced labour.

30 Mar 2014 - 4:55am 2 comments

Report slams Hong Kong for 'narrow, fragmented laws' that fail to stop human trafficking

Report slams Hong Kong for 'narrow, fragmented laws' that fail to stop human trafficking

Hong Kong's laws on human trafficking are too narrow and fragmented to protect victims, says a report published today. It says the city's focus on trafficking for prostitution means it is failing to address the wider problem of forced labour.

28 Mar 2014 - 11:37am 26 comments

'We are workers, not slaves!' Hundreds of maids march on Hong Kong government HQ

Organisers say 1,000 marched. Police say 410. Photo: Nora Tam

Hundreds of Indonesian maids marched through the streets yesterday to call for better labour rights - with some likening their working conditions to slavery.

10 Mar 2014 - 4:38pm 8 comments

Hong Kong government has a duty to respect the rights of domestic helpers

Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Labour and Welfare

After a record number of complaints against recruitment agencies for domestic helpers last year, let alone anecdotal evidence of overcharging and disregard for maids' rights and welfare, it is a worry that the Labour Department denied licence renewals to only four out of 1,250-odd during the period. 

6 Mar 2014 - 7:29am

Hong Kong’s maid agencies face tough new rules after Erwiana case

A poster on show at Thursday's meeting. Photo: Dickson Lee

Hong Kong will overhaul its regulatory system for foreign domestic helpers and revise punishments for unscrupulous employment agencies that are currently set "too low", the labour and welfare secretary told the South China Morning Post on Thursday.

28 Feb 2014 - 2:57am 10 comments

Greater protection for foreign domestic helpers urged as first Myanmese workers arrive

The first group of Myanmese domestic workers is welcomed by recruitment agents at the Chek Lap Kok upon arrival in Hong Kong.  Photo: Nora Tam

Only four recruitment agencies for domestic helpers lost their licences last year despite a record total of complaints against them. The findings by the South China Morning Post prompted calls for a self-regulating industry body to be set up to help protect foreign domestic workers.

25 Feb 2014 - 7:31am 7 comments