Hong Kong: Migrant Domestic Workers Must Live In

Migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong must live with their employers, according to a court ruling this week that rejected a case by a Philippine migrant worker who argued the rule violates Hong Kong’s Bill of Rights and other basic laws.

Hong Kong, domestic workers, migrant workers, Solidarity Center

Credit: Sally Choi

Expressing disappointment in the court’s decision, the Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU) vowed to continue to demand that “the government revise regulations that prohibit living (outside the employer’s home) and develop concrete policies to ensure that migrant domestic workers who live with their employers enjoy reasonable living conditions.”

Among the 400,000 domestic workers in Hong Kong, 335,500 are migrant domestic workers. Isolated in homes, they often are subject to physical and verbal abuse and subjected to overwork and poor living conditions. Some 52 million domestic workers are employed in countries where they are completely excluded from national labor laws.

Although Hong Kong laws cover the working conditions of domestic workers, FADWU urged the government to enforce the laws.

“The government should also take the responsibility to ensure enforcement and to conduct inspections to ensure that migrant domestic workers’ rights to privacy, self-improvement, rest time and private life are protected, and also to ensure that migrant domestic workers have safe working environments, equality and dignity,” the union says in a statement.

On Sunday, hundreds of migrant domestic workers rallied at Hong Kong’s City Hall to demand an end to violence against women, and called on the government to reform regulations covering migrant workers to ensure they work regular hours, receive decent food and sleeping quarters.