Domestic helpers in Sheung Wan get highest pay in HK: survey

September 15, 2017 17:15
Domestic helpers working for families in Sheung Wan and other parts of the Central and Western District get the highest pay, according to a new survey. Photo: HKEJ

Domestic helpers tend to earn more in Hong Kong Island and on the outlying islands, according to a study by an online employment platform.

In Sheung Wan, a wealthy area of Hong Kong Island, employers offer an average of HK$5,195, or HK$885 more than the minimum. The next best rate by area is Lantau Island, where helpers are offered HK$5,185 on average.

HelperChoice, an online platform that matches employers with domestic workers at no cost to the helpers, analysed data from about 3,000 recent job ads posted by its users.

The mean salary offered to helpers is HK$4,545, or HK$235 (5.4 percent) above the current minimum wage of HK$4,310.

The figure is up 23 percent from last year's survey.

Stanley, which topped the 2016 survey, fell to third place, while Victoria Peak, No.2 last year, plummeted to 12th.

The lowest average salaries are in the North District where the average rate is HK$4,371, just HK$61 above the minimum salary.

The area where the salary is the lowest is Siu Sai Wan in Hong Kong Island with an average salary at HK$4,315, closely followed by Diamond Hill (HK$4,343) in Kowloon and Shau Kei Wan (HK$4,337), in the northeast of Hong Kong Island.

Not surprisingly, the districts in which the salary is the highest are those in which the required number of years of experience is also the longest, with the average minimum years of experience reaching 3.6 years in the Southern District and 1.8 years in the Northern District.

The average salary is about HK$4,700 for 3.5 years of experience, HK$4,600 for three years, HK$4,450 for 2.5 years of experience and HK$4,400 for two years.

There are other factors or reasons that cause employers to pay a higher salary like for instance the number of children to look after, the types of household chores or the types of care duties for elderly persons.

Specialised skills also play a big role in determining the salary. For instance, drivers in Hong Kong are paid more than HK$7,570 on average as they are able to take on extra errands and duties such as taking the kids to school.

The salary of FDWs in Hong Kong does not include food allowance, costs of accommodation or medical benefits and yet Hong Kong’s average salary is one of the highest in Asia which makes this city the preferred destination of foreign domestic workers.

Hong Kong employers need to pay FDHs a minimum wage stipulated by law, which was raised by 2.4 percent to HK$4,310 per month in October 2016.

The pay for helpers in Hong Kong is about 1.5 times and 1.9 times higher than the average local wages in the Philippines and Indonesia, respectively, providing a steady stream of income remitted to their families in their home countries.

In fact, the monthly wage of an FDH in Hong Kong is 35 percent higher than the pay for a household maid in Singapore, according to a recent Legislative Council research. These wage differentials appear to provide continued incentive for Filipinos and Indonesians to work in Hong Kong.

The government will announce a review of domestic workers’ minimum wage at the end of this month. On September 30 last year, the government announced a 2.4 percent increase in the minimum wage for foreign domestic helpers, from HK$4,210 to HK$4,310. It increased the salaries also by 2.4 percent to HK$4,210 in 2015 from HK$4,110.

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The darker the color, the higher the pay for domestic helpers. Generally, employers on Hong Kong Island, in particular those in Sheung Wan, Stanley and Mid-Levels are more generous. Photo: Helper Choice
A breakdown of salaries for helpers in Hong Kong's different districts. Photo: Helper Choice
Hong Kong offers a much higher pay to foreign domestic helpers compared with the average wage in their home countries and in other markets like Singapore and Taiwan. Photo: Legco