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Migrant support group holds rights talk

20 November 2017

Participants in the seminar organized by the Domestic Workers’ Corner for its members.

By Rodelia Villar

Around 50 members of the Domestic Workers’ Corner joined a talk on their rights under Hong Kong laws on Oct.29 at Li Hall of St John’s Cathedral  The lecturer was Holly Allan, director of Help for Domestic Workers.

Allan said domestic work in Hong Kong is not easy, given the different situations one has to contend with, and adjust to. A domestic worker is lucky if she gets a good employer, but there is always a chance of getting caught in a worse working condition.

Thus, it is important for the workers to know their rights so they can protect themselves in case of abuse.

Allan talked about employment agency issues, from the maximum fee that could be charged worker (no more than 10% of the first monthly salary) to the kind of help the agency is obliged to give them.

She also guided them through the standard employment contract for domestic workers, which sets out their rights, from getting suitable accommodation and free food if a food allowance is not given. 

More importantly, the workers were given pointers on how they could avoid getting into abusive situations, and what remedies are available to them.

A question and answer portion followed the lecture, where the workers asked about their holiday or rest day entitlements, what they should do if their employer takes them to China, who to report to in case they hear of a worker falling victim to human trafficking, how can one go back to working in HK if they get “blacklisted” by Immigration, and many other concerns.

Most of the participants said afterwards that they learned a lot from the talk, including those not covered by the PDOS (Pre~Departure Orientation Seminar) and PAOS (Post Arrival Orientation Seminar) which they were required to attend.

According to Ana Maria Daria, “I really appreciate the talk. It’s true that if we lack knowledge about our rights as household workers we are afraid to assert ourselves, or seek help. Sometimes, we get afraid about losing our job, but  the talk made me realize that the law in HK is fair. The knowledge I learned can help me with my own situation, and I now know where to go if someone asks me for help. “

Marichu Cascarro says the lecture was a big help as she learned that there were still a lot of things she didn’t know, like she could not be terminated a month or less before her contract of employment ends. But most importantly she learned the value of keeping a diary, especially when an employer makes the worker do something not stated in the contract. - Rodelia  Villar

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