We know that OFWs have different experiences of working abroad. This largely depends on their host country, employers, as well as overall experience in their type of work.
But for foreign domestic workers, their experience may also be affected by the expectations they were given about working abroad. In this post, we will share some facts about working as a domestic helper in Hong Kong as shared by the Pinay Nanny Vlogger in Hong Kong. If you like her content, you may follow and subscribe to her channel.
Disclaimer: The information published is based on the experience shared by the vlogger/YouTuber. The information provided may change without prior notice and may differ in actual settings. Let this article serve as a guide only.
The Reality about Being a Domestic Helper in Hong Kong
So to start, let us first come to an agreement that no work is ever easy, especially if it’s your first time on the job.
And while the work of a domestic helper may be physically demanding, the challenges do not end there because the adjustment to life overseas will also come into play.
Here are 9 truths about the work and life of a domestic helper in Hong Kong:
#1 The truth about Food
According to the law, domestic helpers are entitled to receive a food allowance of not less than HKD 1,121 per month as of Sept 2019. Alternatively, employers may also provide FDHs with food free of charge.
However, this is not always the case because not all employers provide food allowance to their domestic helpers. Worse even, some employers feed their workers with leftovers.
Another thing is, people in Hong Kong are not used to eating rice in the morning, or at any time of the day. And some employers only eat noodles at lunch or dinner. If they won’t be providing a cash allowance to their helper, then the helper might also have to eat only what they eat. This means no rice for some. And this could be a difficult adjustment for a Filipino worker because we all love our rice.
#2 The truth about Work Hours
If you are not used to working long hours back in the Philippines, you have to know that the average working hours of a domestic helper here in Hong Kong based on a 2017 survey is between 13 to 16 hours per day.
#3 The truth about Employer’s Attitude
Although it cannot be said for the majority, some Hong Kong employers treat their domestic helpers inhumanely. However, this does not mean that physical abuse is common among domestic helpers, too. Helpers are typically treated harshly in terms of words such as being shouted at in public (parks, malls, etc).
Physical abuse among domestic helpers is not common here in Hong Kong because the police are very active in neighborhoods, and people generally do not cause commotions or an uproar that might get the attention of police authorities.
#4 The truth about Sleeping and Waking Hours
Because domestic helpers are typically working in a live-in set up with their employers, their work hours may also affect their rest or sleeping time.
Because some domestic helpers work here for 13 up to 16 hours a day, their rest time would usually start at 10 pm, the earliest. And if you have a school kid to take care of, you have to be awake by 6 am the earliest to attend to the kid’s needs or if you have to send them to school.
#5 The truth about Rest days/Holidays/Statutory leaves.
Domestic helpers are entitled to 12 statutory leaves in a year. However, this is not always the case, especially for workers on a live-in set-up with their employers. And even if a domestic helper is given a holiday off, she cannot fully enjoy the entire 24 hours to herself because she still has to observe a curfew. Meaning, a domestic helper cannot stay outside the house beyond curfew hours, thus, forcing them to do work once they return home. Also, employers do not usually pay their helpers if in case the helper chose not to spend their day-off or holiday outside.
#6 The truth about the domestic helper’s sleeping area.
Because Hong Kong is quite a small place, real estate is very expensive, and domestic workers either share a room with their ward (child) or sleep in common areas such as the living room or elsewhere. This is the reason why you have to look into your employment contract carefully so you would know important details such as where you will be staying in your employer’s accommodation because sadly, free accommodation does not automatically mean having a sleeping area to yourself.
#7 The truth about the domestic helper’s work clothes.
If there’s a positive thing in this list, it’s the fact that most domestic helpers in Hong Kong are not required to wear a uniform while working. Helpers can wear any comfortable clothing, with decency in mind, of course. So, domestic helpers may wear a shirt and jogging pants while working at their employer’s home unless it is explicitly stated in the contract that they are required to wear a uniform provided by their employer.
#8 The truth about the placement/processing fee and other fees.
It is not true that a domestic worker can work in Hong Kong or anywhere abroad without having to pay for anything. Even if agencies claim that there are no placement/processing fees anymore, there are still other mandatory fees to be paid by the domestic helper herself. These include the payment for the OWWA membership, the pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS), and training (most expensive), on top of other fees.
#9 The truth about domestic helpers’ salary in Hong Kong.
According to the law, the minimum wage for domestic helpers as of September 2019 is HKD 4,630 per month. But in actual scenarios, a domestic helper may earn up to HKD 6,500 here in Hong Kong, depending on their experience and their employer. Most of the time, Western employers pay higher than their Asian counterparts.
And while there is a minimum salary that employers need to meet, some pay late or have to be reminded by their domestic helper for payment.
A domestic helper may have a different experience from another domestic helper here in Hong Kong. But what is important is that you know your rights and where you stand in the law. If you know that you are not receiving what you are due, then you can bring this up with your agency or seek help from the Embassy so you will be guided on the course of action that you should take based on your situation.
Did we miss anything on the list? Do let us know by leaving your comments below so we can help those who wish to work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong!