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.

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. 

Thursday, 6 March, 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

Injured Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih weeps on leaving hospital

Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, 23, is wheeled out of hospital before heading to her family home. Photo: AFP

Doctors discharged injured Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih yesterday after a stay of nearly a month in hospital. Surrounded by relatives, a tearful but smiling Erwiana emerged in a wheelchair from Amal Sehat Islamic Hospital in Sragen, in the eastern part of central Java, to be greeted by an army of well-wishers.

10 Feb 2014 - 3:07pm

Filipinos concerned Hong Kong visa sanctions against officials might affect them

Filipinos in the city are fearing more sanctions. Photo: Nora Tam

The government last week announced that official and diplomatic Philippine passport holders - up to 800 of them visit the city each year - would no longer be allowed to enjoy a 14-day visa-free arrangement.

3 Feb 2014 - 3:59am 5 comments

Hong Kong must address the social costs of hiring domestic helpers

Hong Kong must address the social costs of hiring domestic helpers

The number of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong has risen since the 1980s, and has coincided with the city's economic growth. According to the Immigration Department, more than 310,000 were in Hong Kong as of May last year, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia. On average, one in eight households now has a maid; the figure is one in three for households with children.

3 Feb 2014 - 3:48am 7 comments

Helper moved to the fore as migrant workers' champion

Illustration: Lau Ka-kuen

When Indonesian domestic worker Sringatin arrived in Hong Kong 12 years ago, she had a simple dream of earning a decent living and helping her family. Little did she realise that in just over a decade, she would be the public face for Hong Kong's foreign domestic helpers.

27 Jan 2014 - 4:30am

Campaign to educate helpers on their rights following alleged Erwiana abuse

Injured domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. Photo: Sam Tsang

Police and labour officials returned to Hong Kong from Indonesia last night after a six-day visit to investigate allegations of abuse against domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih.

26 Jan 2014 - 5:33am

Review rules to better protect domestic helpers

Demonstrators carry the colors of the Indonesian national flag during a march in support of Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih who was allegedly tortured by her employer in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

Hong Kong's laws are supposed to protect maids against abuse. Consulate-generals are required to help their nationals in times of need. Domestic helper employment agencies should offer an extra layer of support. How, then, could Indonesian Erwiana Sulistyaningsih have been so badly abused, allegedly by her employer? The answer is simple enough: the system failed the 23-year-old woman, who remains in an Indonesian hospital with horrific injuries.

24 Jan 2014 - 3:15am 3 comments