The Hong Kong government announced on Friday that the Minimum Allowable Wage for foreign domestic helpers in the city will increase by HK$140 to HK$4,870 from the previous HK$4,730. The 3% increase will apply to all contracts signed by foreign domestic helpers from September 30.

In addition, the minimum food allowance that employers can pay foreign domestic helpers will go up by HK$40 to a minimum of $1,236 per month. However, this is an optional component of a helper’s salary as, under the terms of a Standard Employment Contract, employers can provide them food free of charge.

In September 2022, the Labour Department increased the Minimum Allowable Wage for helpers by 2.2% — from $4,630 to $4,730 per month. Additionally, the food allowance was raised by HK$23 from “not less than HK$1,173 to not less than HK$1,196 per month”. These increases were seen as insufficient, especially since the government froze helper salaries in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Therefore, in August this year, two groups representing Hong Kong’s foreign domestic helpers met with the Labour Department and asked for a minimum pay increase of 27% and for their food allowance to be tripled, due to rising inflation.

One of the these groups, the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, also issued a statement last month in which they requested that the Hong Kong government change the mandatory live-in rule for helpers and abolish the policy mandating that helpers must find new employment within two weeks of their contracts expiring or after being terminated by their employers.

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“Throughout the past few years our fellow migrant domestic workers have reported being forced to sleep in toilets, on couches, or on the floors of the room of the child and elderly we care for. We reiterate our call to make live out optional for us and our employers to discuss and decide what is best for their family,” according to the group’s statement on Facebook.

Header image credits: yh Lau via Flickr

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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