Foreign Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong

Topics: Employment, Domestic worker, Foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong Pages: 17 (3639 words) Published: April 20, 2014

Foreign Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong

1. Introduction
2. Background Information
A) Population and Nationality of FDHs
B) Major Problems
3. Relevant Policies for FDHs
Loophole of the policy for the FDHs
4. FDHs in other countries
5. Suggestions on possible areas for policy changes
6. Conclusion
7. References

1. Introduction

The paper is going to study the foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) work in Hong Kong, to see whether they are treated respective and reasonable by the employer and the government. Generally, the working and living condition is poor to the FDHs in Hong Kong, therefore, the disputes between the employer and FDHs arise more and more; and the exploitation by the agency is another pressure on the FDHs. It is worth to reveal the reality of FDHs to the public arousing the public attention.

To confer the reason behind, the paper is going to study on the existing social policies and social services discriminate against the FDHs. There are three main sections in this paper, the first section is about the introduction and the background information of the FDHs and the following section is the discussion with the policies towards the FDHs, and the last section is the suggestion and conclusion.

2. Background Information

A) Population and Nationality of FDHs

FDHs are one major group of migrant workers in Hong Kong. According to the Immigration Department (ID), as of September 2012, the total FDHs population is 311,455. Most of the Workers are come from Philippine and Indonesia, 152,842 Filipinos workers, and 150,375 Indonesian workers in Hong Kong. They are accounted for half of the total FDHs’ population. Moreover, there are 3,077 Thais and 4,161 workers of other nationalities. Some 90% of FDHs are female. Compared to 299,961 at 2011 and 285,681 at 2010, the total FDHs’ population continually increase which shows that the demand of FDH is large. (ID, 2012)

B) Major Problems

a) Exploitation by the Agency

The main channel for employers to hire FDHs is through the employment agency and the fees for agency will be charged. The Employment Agency Regulations of Employment Ordinance (chapter 57) regulated that the maximum commission received by an agency from the FDHs should not exceed 10% of their first month's wages, it makes $392 for a FDH. However, the agency would mislead them or claim as training fees in order to charge excessive agency fees. The agency will collude with finance companies and encourage the FDHs to borrow money in order to pay these illegal fees. They even withhold the workers’ travel documents to force them to pay the fees. Out of eager to work and fear of unemployment, most of the FDHs will pay for the fees, however, these illegal fees are usually without any receipt or written documents to proof. And they need to pay the fees again if they resign and work for another employer. In order to pay for the debt, the FDHs will endure any unreasonable exploitation.

According to the research conducted by Consumer Council in 2010 and Hong Kong Economic Times in 2012 and 2013, the agency fees of different domestic helper employment agency around $6,500 - $8,200 for the employer in Hong Kong, compared to the last year around $3,880 - $3,988, it increased more than 70%. (Consumer Council) For the FDHs, 78% Indonesian workers need to pay about HK$ 21,000, which is nearly 5 months of their salary. (Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (IMWU), 2012)

The number of complaints against Employment Agencies (EAs) placing FDHs received by Consumer Council in the past three years keeps increasing from 214 in 2009 to 319 in 2012. Most of the cases involved overcharging. It shows the problem of overcharging agency fees are getting more seriously.

b) Underpayment or Arrears of wages

The situation of FDHs being underpaid and overcharging agency fees issues are closely related. Most FDH...

References: Lgnacio & Mejia (2009). Managing Labour Migration: The case of the Filipino and Indone
Asato, W$FILE/CAP_57A_e_b5.pdf
My sweet home employment agency (2012), 各地外傭薪酬比較, available at
外傭逾期留港 大埔元朗聚腳 最長匿港17年 當黑工度日(2011), HKET, available at
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