Domestic workers’ plight in the spotlight
Survey of employees shows range of grievances as government drags its feet over launch of a standard hour policy
Two out of five Hong Kong’s domestic workers claimed they were working more than 16 hours a day, according to the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW), a non-government organization, citing a 2016 survey of its 5,038 clients published this week.
According to the 5,038 clients served by the MFMW, nine out of 10 complained about long working hours, according to the latest report published by the organization. About 62% of the clients said they were working between 11 and 16 hours a day.
In Hong Kong, the progress of launching a standard hour policy has remained slow over the past five years after the government published a report of the policy study on standard working hours in November 2012.
The report stated that 690,000 full-time employees from six sectors, including retail, estate management and security, restaurants, land transport, elderly homes and laundry and dry cleaning services, were working for 54.6 hours per week on average. The figures excluded domestic workers.
The government is yet to announce a timetable for the launch of a standard hour policy.
Excessive agency fees
MFMW also found that only 4% of its clients had paid the legal amount of charges to the recruitment agencies.
According to the Employment Ordinance in Hong Kong, the maximum commission by recruitment agencies that can be collected from workers is 10% of their first month’s wage upon successful deployment, which should be about HK$431 (US$55).
However, 58% of clients surveyed claim they paid between HK$432 and HK$10,000, while 17% said they paid between HK$10,001 and HK$15,000. About 21% of clients paid more than HK$15,000 as employment agencies added charged fees for a range of services, including registration and training.