The Philippine consulate general in Hong Kong has recommended a mandatory monthly meal allowance of HK$1,000 for domestic helpers.
The move comes after it received complaints from helpers that they are not being treated fairly when it comes to food, Apple Daily reports.
Employers are required by law to give helpers free meals or a monthly allowance of HK$1,037.
Vice consul Alex Vallespin said in an article carried by Filipino publications that the lion’s share of employers have opted to give their helpers free meals.
However, many helpers have complained that there are instances when helpers are given only only biscuits and noodles.
Vallespin said he told Hong Kong labor officials at a Sept. 27 meeting that Filipinos would like rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In reality, however, they end up eating their employers’ leftovers.
Vallespin said he has requested that the allowance be made mandatory in employment contracts.
Betty Yung, chairperson of the Employers of Domestic Helpers Association, said helpers are usually in charge of cooking at home, so they get to eat the same food as their employers, according to Sing Tao Daily.
Yung said many employers also bring along their helpers to restaurants, adding there is only a small number of employers who have mistreated their helpers when it comes to meals.
She said a mandatory meal allowance will increase the burden on employers, which could in turn become a lose-lose situation, with fewer families able to afford helpers.
Tang Kin-wah, director of the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions, said many helpers often have to buy food with their own money.
Meanwhile, the Philippine consulate general has agreed to suspend a ban on cleaning the exterior of windows for Filipino helpers until Nov. 14, pending a meeting with Labor Department officials on Monday.
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