A Filipino maid has lost her bid to have a Hong Kong court quash a government rule that requires foreign domestic helpers in the city to compulsorily live with their employers.
On Wednesday, the High Court ruled against Nancy Almorin Lubiano after she sought a judicial review last year into the rule that bars foreign maids from living outside their employers’ homes.
Delivering the verdict, judge Anderson Chow Ka-ming said the live-in arrangement for foreign domestic workers is reasonable and that the requirement cannot be seen as discrimination, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Referring to Lubiano’s argument that forcing maids to live with their employers meant loss of freedom after work for the maids and that the arrangement also leaves them vulnerable to abuse or ill-treatment, Chow said there is no evidence to support such claim.
If some employers mistreat their maids, the blame cannot be laid at the door of the policy, the judge suggested.
Claiming that all foreign maids are protected by Hong Kong law, Chow pointed out they can always choose whether to come to work in Hong Kong or not by their own free will.
If foreign maids find the live-in requirement unacceptable after coming to Hong Kong, they are free to terminate the employment contracts and go to work in other places, Chow noted.
In light of that, Chow did not agree with the petitioner’s argument that the “live-in” rule is overly rigid.
The ruling came after Lubiano, who has been working in Hong Kong for years since 2011, filed for a judicial review in 2016, saying the live-in rule goes against the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.
Under the current system, the Director of Immigration has the authority to put restrictions on conditions of domestic helpers’ stay.
A person who refuses to accept the condition can be denied a work visa, while those who are employed but violate the rule can face criminal prosecution or see their visa extension bids turned down.
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