Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong are required to live in the homes of their employers. Photo: Asia Times

A maid from Sri Lanka filed a judicial review in the High Court on Tuesday against the “live-in” rule for foreign domestic workers.

Rankothpedi Duravalage Kamalawath, who started working in Yi Long Wan on Lantau Island in 2012, said the live-in requirement was discriminatory and unconstitutional because it increased the risk of breaches of fundamental human, labor and economic rights.

As a condition of stay for foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, they must reside and sleep in their place of employment.

Kamalawath said the Director of Immigration, whose department enforced the requirement, was acting beyond his authority under the Immigration Ordinance, as the live-in requirement is not a valid condition of stay given the fact that other immigrant workers have the right to choose where to reside and sleep, Sing Pao reported.

Kamalawath said she had previously been abused by an employer, who did not give her holidays or pay her the legal minimum wage and ordered her to work in different locations, including a commercial premises. Because of “tremendous” pressure from work, she suffered schizophrenia and aural hallucinations and has not been able to work since last year, she claimed.

This is the second judicial-review application against the live-in requirement.

A Filipino maid filed a judicial review in November last year claiming the live-in rule infringed on her and other domestic workers’ rights, Sing Tao Daily reported.

For years, the Labour Department has reiterated its stance on the live-in rule, saying there is no need to cancel the requirement as Hong Kong does not lack live-out domestic workers.

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