The government is drafting a code of conduct and practice as a guide to domestic helpers from overseas and their Hong Kong employers in the hope of preventing more cases of abuse from happening.
Secretary for Labor and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung wrote in his blog on the bureau’s website Sunday that the draft is expected to be completed by the first quarter of next year and that the government will consult unions of foreign maids, employment agencies and other stakeholders, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
The government’s move appears to be a response to an outcry from the public calling for better protection of the rights of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong after a high-profile case in which a Hong Kong mother of two was found guilty of repeatedly abusing her Indonesian maid, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih.
Lau Wan-tung was jailed for six years by a court earlier this year.
Cheung said the number of foreign maids in the city has risen by 50 percent over the past 10 years and reached a total of more than 340,000 at the end of last month.
To better protect their rights, he said, the code will cover good practices, malpractices and acts to be avoided in the industry.
Cheung said the Labor Department has increased the frequency of its inspections of maid agencies since April last year, to 1,800 times a year from 1,300.
He said 12 employers have been convicted so far this year for violating the Employment Ordinance.
The Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions does not think such a code of practice will be of much help, as it is not legally binding, and urges the government to legislate laws that can really protect their members.
Tang Kin-wa, organising secretary of the federation, conceded that the code would be “better than nothing”.
He said the government should tighten up the legislation and the corresponding punishments to reflect the seriousness of the crimes.
For instance, Tang said, employment agencies that imposed excessive charges on the domestic helpers were only fined tens of thousands of dollars, which did not serve as enough of a deterrent to the malpractice.
No info about boarding houses for foreign maids: Govt (May 6, 2015)
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