Date
6 December 2016
Starting January, two new clauses will be added to the contracts of domestic helpers for their own protection regading the cleaning of winfows. Photos: HKEJ
Starting January, two new clauses will be added to the contracts of domestic helpers for their own protection regading the cleaning of winfows. Photos: HKEJ

New rules on maids’ window cleaning to take effect in January

Two new clauses will be added to the employment contracts of domestic helpers to protect them from improper requests to clean the exterior of windows in high-rise buildings, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

One clause requires that only windows with locked grilles can be cleaned by maids. The other states that no part of the helper’s body will be outside the window except the arms.

The Labor Department said the restrictions were agreed by consulates of different countries that deploy domestic helpers to Hong Kong.

These will be in force in all contracts signed after Jan. 1, 2017. The new rules don’t apply to contracts signed before the end of the year. 

Labor Commissioner Carlson Chan said Hong Kong domestic helpers, who are on two-year employment terms, will be eventually covered under a new contract

For uncovered contracts, Chan said these must be submitted to the Immigration Department by Jan. 27 next year.

He asked employers to do their best to ensure workplace safety for their maids working under existing contracts.

Employers will not be subject to any criminal punishment if they break the rules but insurance companies may require offenders to jointly pay compensation in the event of an accident, Chan said.

The Labor Department originally planned to demand that an adult be present while the maid is cleaning windows in addition to the two clauses.

Chan said the two new rules are sufficient to protect maids from danger.

Betty Yung, who chairs the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association, said it is not practical to have a maid supervised by an adult while she is cleaning windows, according to Apple Daily.

Even so, she said whether supervision is necessary remains to be seen.

Yung proposed pre-work training for domestic helpers by consulates and the Labor Department which should also provide them with free in-service courses.

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