Domestic workers in Central, Hong Kong Island. Photo: Asia Times
Domestic workers in Central, Hong Kong Island. Photo: Asia Times

The Hong Kong government has said it will look at Canada’s working hours regulation for live-in caregivers to see if it can be extended locally to migrant domestic workers.

Matthew Cheung, the chief secretary, said a pilot test is being done on contractual working hours in five industries and the scheme will be reviewed to see if it can be applied in other sectors and to domestic workers, with the Canadian system as a guide, reported.

Cheung made this pledge during a meeting at the Central Government Offices on May 2 with civil society leaders to discuss labor concerns and the need for moves to prevent human trafficking.

“This is already a good start even if Chief Secretary Cheung did not promise anything concrete,” Eman Villanueva, who represented the Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body at the meeting, said.

Under Canada’s laws, live-in caregivers are obliged to work only a maximum of 48 hours a week.

Hong Kong has no law on working hours for ordinary workers in the private sector, but 44 hours a week is the norm for government employees.

For foreign domestic workers, however, the standard employment contract does not say how long they must work each day. Previous studies invariably show most work at least 11 hours a day, with a big number working longer than 16 hours.

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