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.

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.

Thursday, 10 April, 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

Pictures: First domestic workers from Myanmar arrive in Hong Kong amid concerns of abuse

Pictures: First domestic workers from Myanmar arrive in Hong Kong amid concerns of abuse

The first group of maids hired from Myanmar arrived in Hong Kong yesterday, pronouncing themselves happy and excited to be in the city but saddled with a HK$16,000 agency debt that will take half their salaries for the first year.

For many of the 19 domestic workers from the former closed state, it was the first time they had set foot outside their country.

24 Mar 2014 - 4:52pm 1 comment

'Job-hopping' foreign domestic workers suspected of exploiting rules

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok. Photo: Sam Tsang

More than 1,300 foreign domestic helpers who applied for work visas in Hong Kong last year were suspected of "job-hopping" to collect severance pay, the Security Bureau says.

Of those, 170 applications were rejected, while another 158 were voluntarily withdrawn, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said yesterday.

20 Feb 2014 - 4:48pm 4 comments

Hong Kong urged to sign UN treaty on protection of domestic helpers

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih

Hong Kong could show its commitment to human rights by adopting provisions in an international treaty, including allowing domestic helpers to live outside employers' homes, a United Nations labour law expert says.

16 Feb 2014 - 4:46am 2 comments

Second maid plans civil lawsuit against Erwiana's ex-employer

Domestic helpers gather in Victoria Park yesterday in support of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, the Indonesian allegedly abused by her employer. About 500 helpers called for the abolition of 'discriminatory' policies. Photo: David Wong

A former maid of the woman who allegedly abused Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih has applied for legal aid for a civil lawsuit against her ex-employer, according to the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union.

10 Feb 2014 - 8:55am

Myanmar 'vigilant' over maids, says man who plans to bring them to Hong Kong

Gold Mine Manpower's Yangon training centre.

As controversy continues over the treatment of domestic helpers in the SAR, Oake Khaung, the founder of Yangon recruitment company Gold Mine Manpower, said the official paperwork for the first group of 19 workers - who are due to arrive next week - had still not been completed, signalling that Myanmar's Ministry of Labour wanted to ensure their rights would be protected.

9 Feb 2014 - 5:20am 3 comments

Myanmese domestic helpers asked to pay high agency fees to work in Hong Kong

Protesters show support for battered Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. Photo: Nora Tam

Domestic helpers coming to Hong Kong from Myanmar will have to pay about HK$16,000 to their home recruitment agency - the highest fee in the region.

6 Feb 2014 - 9:10am 3 comments