Domestic workers enjoy their weekly day off at Victory Park. Photo: Asia Times

The High Court in Hong Kong rejected a legal challenge on Wednesday against the mandatory live-in rule for foreign maids.

The court said there was nothing discriminatory about the live-in rule, as it is in line with the purpose of hiring foreign domestic workers, RTHK reported.

Domestic workers could choose not to come to Hong Kong to work if they feel that the live-in requirement breaches their rights, Judge Anderson Chow said at High Court.

Lubiano Nancy Almorin, a domestic worker from the Philippines, filed a judicial review last year against the government over its requirement that all foreign maids have to reside and sleep at their place of work.

Lawyer Paul Shieh Wing-tai, legal representative for Almorin, argued that the Director of Immigration does not have the power to restrict where foreign domestic workers can live. He also argued that the live-in requirement violates both the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights, saying the rule increases the risk of violations of maids’ fundamental rights.

Benjamin Yu Yuk-hoi, a lawyer representing the government, said the Director of Immigration had the power to impose requirements for foreigners who stay in Hong Kong. But he said employers who overwork their domestic workers would face criminal charges.

The live-in rule was introduced in 2003 and implemented via standard employment contracts and pledges when workers apply for visas. Human rights groups have called for the rule to be loosened to reduce risks of abuse and exploitation.

ReadLegal challenge against live-in rule for domestic workers

ReadMaid challenges live-in rule by applying for judicial review

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