Date
16 July 2019
Foreign domestic maids in Hong Kong mostly complain that they are forced to put in long hours and that they also suffer other forms of exploitation, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ
Foreign domestic maids in Hong Kong mostly complain that they are forced to put in long hours and that they also suffer other forms of exploitation, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ

Seven in 10 foreign maids in HK work over 13 hours a day: survey

The Hong Kong government is facing calls for more support for foreign domestic helpers in the city, as a survey has revealed that many of the maids are putting in unreasonably long working hours, with some also suffering physical abuse at the hands of their employers.

According to a research group at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, a study has shown that 70.6 percent of the foreign domestic workers work more than 13 hours a day, and 34.6 percent of the maids would even need to work on off days.

Among other findings from the survey, which was conducted by the Chinese University’s Research Centre on Migration and Mobility, 43.9 percent of the foreign maids do not have their own private room to stay in, 23.7 percent said they cannot take a day off on any statutory holiday, and 28.6 percent feel they are discriminated against.

As per the results unveiled on Wednesday, 8 percent of the interviewed maids said their monthly wage is less than the statutory level required, while 7.3 percent claimed they have never received their wage on time and 3.9 percent claimed they are physically abused by their employers.

The survey, which was conducted from May to September in 2017, took in the responses of more than two thousand migrant domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

As far as the workers’ physical and metal heath were concerned, the survey found the average scores were 47.1 and 44.7 on a scale of 0 to 100, respectively, with both weaker than the 51.8 and 55.5 scores among local adults, according to the same score measurement of a survey undertaken in 2018.

Calling the findings worrisome, the research team pointed out that over 70 percent of the foreign domestic workers said they would approach a formal supportive network, including consulate of their country, the Labour Department and employment agencies, for contract-related issues.

As for emotional support, the maids resort to an informal supportive network. More than half of the respondents think their friends in the city could give emotional support, but over 60 percent of them believed they would not talk to friends regarding financial matters.

According to the university research team, while most foreign domestic workers interviewed would approach the Labour Department and the Immigration Department for help, one in three of them believe they would not receive appropriate support.

Among other findings, only 4 percent of foreign maids said they would turn to social workers for help when they come across any problem. This suggests that the maids are not familiar with the dedicated services offered by social service organizations, the research team said, calling on the government to step up propaganda and support efforts.

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TL/JC/RC

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