Domestic workers in Causeway Bay. Photo: Asia Times
Domestic workers in Causeway Bay. Photo: Asia Times

Hong Kong will continue to enforce the live-in rules for domestic workers and required those whose contracts were terminated to leave the city within two weeks.

The stance was made by the government representative at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination meeting in Geneva in August, which drew criticism from domestic worker groups, the reported.

Andy Chan, the Undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, led a delegation to answer the UN committee’s questions on issues about racial discrimination and human rights in Hong Kong at the quadrennial meeting.

Chan said under Hong Kong labor laws, domestic workers enjoy the same rights and protection as local workers, adding that they could get further protection from the Standard Employment Contract, which provides benefits not necessarily available to local workers.

Chan said domestic workers had a minimum allowable wage, free accommodation, free food or a food allowance, free medical care and free passage to and from their places of origin.

He added that locals were given priority in jobs, which has been the city’s policy. Imported labor should be allowed only if a post cannot be filled by locals, he said.

Johan Tong of the Mission for Migrant Workers denounced Chan’s claims as lies and called the government’s response “disappointing.”

“They stressed that everything is legitimate and acceptable … they tried to justify the two-week rule is very necessary for immigration control and they tried to assume that all migrant domestic workers work illegally or commit job-hopping if they live out,” Tong said.

She also hit out at the government’s claim that there was no shortage of local domestic workers. Tong said the fact is it’s expensive for local people to hire local domestic workers.