Domestic workers gather in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Asia Times
Domestic workers gather in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Asia Times

The Hong Kong High Court rejected a legal challenge on Wednesday against the mandatory rule for foreign domestic workers to live with their employers.

The Hong Kong Government said they were pleased that the judgment confirmed that the live-in requirement is lawful and reiterated that foreign workers were fully aware of the requirement before signing an employment contract and they were admitted on that basis. They could terminate the contract at any time if they were no longer willing to comply with the terms, including the live-in requirement, a government release said.

Betty Yung Ma Shan-yee, chair of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers’ Association, welcomed the judgment, saying domestic workers enjoy protection as employers should provide suitable and furnished accommodation and medical care for their workers under the standard employment contract, Sing Pao reported.

Domestic workers would not be able to afford the expensive rental fees in Hong Kong if the ‘live-in rule’ was canceled, Yung Ma said, adding that the existence of the rule would make it difficult for them to work in Hong Kong.

Joan Tsui Hiu-tung, convenor of Support Group for Hong Kong Employers with Foreign Domestic Helpers, said the live-in rule provides stable assistance for working parents who need someone to take care of their children or elderly relatives, Ta Kung Pao reported.

Teresa Liu Tsui-lan, managing director of Technic Employment Service Centre Ltd, was not worried that the judgment would affect the city’s ability to attract domestic workers from overseas.

Liu said local employers offer US$550 salary a month, which is higher than other countries in Southeast Asia.

Domestic workers could also enjoy better labor protection and freedom than if they worked in the Middle East.

But the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions said it was disappointed with the judgment, saying the existing rules do not protect domestic workers’ privacy. The group said the government should evaluate requirements to better protect domestic workers.

ReadHigh Court rejects challenge to the live-in rule for maids

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