MANILA, Philippines—Good news for domestic helpers planning to work in Hong Kong, and those who are already working there.
Acting Labor Secretary Danilo Cruz announced on Wednesday, that the minimum allowable wage (MAW) for foreign household service workers in Hong Kong has been increased by HK$90 (about P504), from $3,290 (about P18,430) to $4,010 (about P20,460) per month, or 2.3 percent.
Citing a report from Labor Attaché to Hong Kong Manuel Roldan, Cruz said that the Hong Kong government also increased by HK$45 the food allowance to $920, or by 5.1 percent, from the previous $875.
The MAW and the food allowance are minimum standards set by the government of Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, to protect foreign domestic helpers from exploitation.
Under the standard employment contract for hiring domestic helpers, Hong Kong employers are required to provide them with food free of charge. At present, the vast majority of employers in the territory provide free food to their domestics. Employers, however, may choose to give food allowances.
Roldan, in his report, said the Hong Kong government decided to increase the MAW after reviewing economic conditions in the territory.
“After careful consideration of the general economic and employment situation in Hong Kong, as reflected through a basket of economic indicators, including relevant economic movement; price change; and labor market situation, as well as the affordability of employers, the Hong Kong government saw there was a need to strike a balance between affordability of employers and the livelihoods of foreign domestic helpers, and decided to increase the MAW, Roldan said.
According to the labor attache, the Hong Kong government also reviewed the food allowance in lieu of free food, and decided to make an increase, taking into account the movement of the relevant consumer price index.
The increase in the MAW and food allowance will apply to contracts signed effective last October 1 and thereafter.
However, new contracts signed by employers and foreign domestic helpers until last Sept. 30 bearing the previous MAWs of $3,920 per month, and food allowance of $875 may still be accepted and processed by the immigration department of Hong Kong, provided that the application will be submitted to the said office by Oct. 28.
The arrangement would give employers sufficient time to send the signed contracts to the immigration department for completion of the necessary application procedures, Roldan said.
He added that new MAW would not affect the previous contracts of employment of household service workers already employed in Hong Kong, and that employment contracts of HSW under the previous MAW would continue to prevail.
The labor attache also said that the MAW and the food allowance were not meant to prevent employers in Hong Kong from providing HSW much better terms and condition of work.
As of September last year, there were more than 150,000 Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong, accounting about 49 percent of the foreign domestic helper population in territory.