A new campaign video has been launched to encourage Hong Kong employers to sign a pledge to improve the working relationship with their domestic workers through respect and fair treatment.

The new video was produced for the International Domestic Workers Federation’s campaign “My Fair Home” by the international human rights consultancy Rights Exposure. The employer’s pledge asks them to uphold the standards of the Domestic Workers Convention of the International Labour Organization.

My Fair Home campaign. Photo: Rights Exposure screenshot, via Facebook.

The clip was published on Tuesday – International Migrants Day. Robert Godden, director of Campaigns and Communications at Rights Exposure, told HKFP that some of the items in the pledge have already been included in Hong Kong law – such as a minimum wage – but there was still much room for improvement.

“They should have decent living conditions, obviously somewhere where they can sleep, have some privacy, preferably in their own room,” Godden said. “One of the very common violations of the standard employment contract is not giving a full 24-hour rest day. The majority of domestic workers are asked to work in the morning of their rest days and to come back in the early evening to work again, which is a clear breach of the contract.”

Godden also said the confiscation of identity documents, excessive fees charged by agents and the prevention of workers from leaving bad employment situations were ongoing concerns.

Gov’t hotline launched

Meanwhile, the Labour Department on Wednesday set up a dedicated hotline to provide support for foreign domestic helpers. The 24-hour hotline is 2157 9537.

It provides one-stop support services to domestic helpers such as providing advice to them on their employment rights and obligations under the law, referring any enquiries, requests and complaints to the relevant divisions of the Labour Department.

A rally on the International Migrants’ Day. Photo: Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions.

The hotline will also advise domestic helpers on the appropriate law enforcement agencies to which they can go to for help in cases of suspected exploitation or physical abuse.

An interpretation service in seven languages – including Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Nepali, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu – is available between 8am and 10pm, Monday to Sunday, excluding public holidays.

Domestic helpers can also request help at fdh@labour.gov.hk.

On 16th December, FADWU organized assembly and rally to commemorate the international Migrants day. This year, the theme…

Posted by 香港亞洲家務工工會聯會 Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions FADWU on Monday, 17 December 2018

Godden said it will take some time to see whether the hotline will be helpful.

“It’s an improvement because the Labour Department, which is one of the key places where domestic helpers can actually make complaints, doesn’t open on the day when most of them have their rest days, which is Sunday,” he said. “Hopefully the hotline will help.”

However, Godden added that the hotline would not help with the difficulties domestic helpers face in gathering evidence against their employers and agents.

“The standard is often too high, and it becomes their words against their employer or their agency,” he said.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.