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Symposium calls for promoting harmonious MDW-employer relationship

29 May 2024

Mission's Cynthia Tellez, PolyU's Hans Ladergaard and PathFinders' Catherine Gurtin
co-organized the symposium, 'Migrant Worker Lives Matter'

Open communication is key to ensuring a harmonious relationship between migrant domestic workers and their employers.

This was one of the key takeaways from a symposium held last Friday on the most pressing issues faced by MDWs working and living in Hong Kong, organized by the Department of English and Communication at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in collaboration with PathFinders and the Mission for Migrant Workers.

Apart from improved employer-employee relationships, the other issues tackled in the “Migrant Worker Lives Matter” symposium were inclusivity, diversity, healthcare and promoting ethical recruitment practices by employment agencies.


Participants in the half-day seminar that included stakeholders, policy makers and academics, all agreed on the significant role played by MDWs in Hong Kong, who look after hundreds of thousands of households and provide healthcare services so their employers can go to work.

But despite their immense contribution to society, MDWs’ rights were seen as not getting enough protection.

During the discussions, three main themes were addressed: domestic work as a caring profession; migrant worker health issues; and employer-employee relationships.

In light of the growing number of MDWs coming to Hong Kong to provide elderly health care, it was agreed that the community should look for ways to foster a better understanding between them and their employers.

To achieve this, participants agreed that the following courses of action should be pursued:

  • More transparency about employment agency dealings to prevent unethical practices;
  • More information about health issues to be made available to MDWs in their own language
  • More information/education be provided to employers about MDWs’ rights and cultural variations like food
  • Open communications to foster more harmonious employer-employee relationships

The symposium recommended the establishment of more effective systems to protect MDWs' rights and wellbeing, and how the diversity they bring could be tapped to promote a more inclusive Hong Kong society.

At the same time, the importance of collaboration among NGOs, government departments and other stakeholders to ensure the rights and wellbeing of MDWs are safeguarded, were highlighted. 


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