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HK govt defends 14-day, live-in rule for foreign helpers

04 September 2018

Hong Kong will continue to require terminated foreign helpers to leave within two weeks and compel them to live with their employers to curb illegal work and maintain tight immigration control, the government has told a UN committee meeting in Geneva.

The statement was made by Undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Andy Chan, in his address to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination meeting in Geneva on Aug 10 and 13

HK gov't says FDWs already enjoy rights and protection.
Chan led a government delegation to answer the committee’s queries on issues about discrimination and human rights in Hong Kong at the quadrennial meeting.

Chan said under Hong Kong labor laws, foreign helpers enjoy the same rights and protection as local workers in terms of rest days, paid statutory holidays and annual leave,  sickness allowance, maternity protection, severance and long service payments. He said Hong Kong has no legislation concerning working hours.

He also said the foreign helpers get further protection from the Standard Employment Contract which provides for a Minimum Allowable Wage, free accommodation, free food (or food allowance), free medical care and free passage to/from their places of origin.

Chan said those benefits are not necessarily available to local workers.

But at the same time, it has been Hong Kong’s policy that local workers are given priority in jobs, and labor importation should be allowed only if the post cannot be filled by local workers.

Chan’s claims were denounced as lies by Johan Tong of the Mission for Migrant Workers, who also called the government’s response “disappointing.”

Tong was speaking at a press conference held shortly after arriving with other NGO representatives who flew to Geneva on Aug 6 to attend the UN meeting.

“They stressed that everything is legitimate and acceptable…they tried to justify the two-week rule is very necessary for immigration control and they tried to assume that all migrant domestic workers work illegally or commit job-hopping if they live out,” Tong said.

She also hit out at the government’s claim that there was no shortage of local domestic workers.

“They say that there is no shortage in live-out local domestic workers. It’s not true. It’s just that it’s very expensive for local people to hire local domestic helpers. And, of course, no one would like to live in. So this was how they twisted the answers to justify and legitimize the policies,” Tong said.
– Vir B. Lumicao

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