The Hong Kong government has urged employers to make sure that the medical-insurance packages they provide their foreign domestic workers cover personal accidents.
Such coverage means maids can seek medical treatment if they suffer injuries from non-work-related activities.
“We consider it reasonable to hold employers responsible for the medical expenses of foreign domestic helpers under their employment and do not see any strong justifications to abolish or revise such [an] arrangement,” Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said in a written reply to a Legislative Council member on Wednesday. “We will monitor the relevant situation to decide whether it is necessary to review the above arrangements.”
The written statement came after Law replied to a question raised by lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun in a LegCo meeting on November 15. Tien had asked the government whether it would amend the law so that employers are excused from paying medical costs if their domestic workers are injured on a rest day or during some high-risk activities such as cliff-jumping.
Law replied to Tien on the same day that the government had no plan to amend the law regarding the matter. He sent a written statement on Wednesday to the LegCo to provide more details.
Apart from medical coverage such as hospitalization, surgery, and outpatient clinic and dental care, there are insurance products that offer coverage for personal accidents, Law said.
“Employers should carefully compare the products offered by different insurance companies and examine the policy terms to have a clear understanding of the coverage, for example, whether the policy terms cover critical illnesses or whether the policy terms have made it clear that accidents occurring in inclement weather would not be covered,” he said.
If domestic workers require medical treatment because of injury arising from non-work-related activities or an accident on a rest day, employers may submit medical claims to insurance companies in accordance with the comprehensive insurance plan taken out, or submit personal-accident claims, including for death or permanent disability of foreign domestic workers caused by severe accidents, Law said.
According to the Standard Employment Contract, employers are required to provide free medical treatment and insurance for their domestic workers, except for maids who leave Hong Kong of their own volition and for their own personal purposes.