Domestic workers gather in Central, Hong Kong. Photo: iStock
Domestic workers gather in Central, Hong Kong. Photo: iStock

Nearly all domestic workers in Hong Kong are overworked, with nearly half saying they are made to work more than 16 hours a day.

Some 99% of the domestic workers who sought help from the Mission for Migrant Workers over the past year complained of long working hours, with 56% of them saying they work between 11 to 16 hours, while 43% allegedly work more than 16 hours a day, according to the group’s annual service report released on April 11.

Cynthia Abdon, general manager of the Mission, said it was alarming that there was a 9% increase in people who reported that they work more than 16 hours a day. There was also an 8% increase in those who reported that they have labor issues.

Some 5,188 workers sought help from the organization last year. According to the workers’ reports, most of the cases involved labor issues, including 59% on premature termination of contracts.

The report also showed 28% of workers complained about insufficient food, while 15% said they had no regular days off and 12% said they had no statutory holidays.

Some 13% of the workers complained that their agencies illegally took their passports away.

The only improvement in the report was a 20% drop in the number of complaints about not having a private room.

Abdon also noted that there had been an increase in employers treating workers badly. “There was a 7% increase for those who reported they are treated badly by their employers. Those who report that they had been physically assaulted by their employers doubled compared to 2017 (from 5% to 10%), ” according to the Mission’s press release.

“All this shows how just the workers’ demands for working hours regulation, wages, and workers’ rights. The data also shows how urgent these demands are, ” Abdon said.

The organization hopes that in the near future, more meaningful and long-lasting changes will be enacted that will lead to migrant domestic workers being treated more fairly.

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