Talks about the need and benefits of imposing mandatory health checks and insurance scheme for foreign domestic workers have been in the news since late last year. However, the idea has been met with opposition from concerned parties, dismissing the idea as “additional burden” on the part of foreign domestic workers, who mostly come from neighbouring Asian countries with lower economic conditions, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, among others.
Following the sad news of a Filipina domestic worker who was fired after having been diagnosed with cancer, there has been renewed discussion among national lawmakers and authorities regarding the real need for the insurance scheme for one of the country’s largest working population, which has boosted Hong Kong’s economy through the years.
HK Lawmakers Study Effects of Imposing Mandatory Insurance for Workers
In line with this, a Hong Kong legislative councillor is looking to propose for the government to introduce mandatory health insurance for domestic workers, as shared in a report by Hong Kong News.
The news has been announced by Pan-democrat lawmaker Kenneth Leung to Filipino migrant workers during a forum at the Philippine Consulate on March 24.
According to the report, legislator Fernando Cheung will present the proposal in the next meeting of the Legislative Council’s manpower panel on April 16.
Based on the proposal, there will be two components to compose the new measure: (1) the compulsory medical insurance for foreign domestic workers and (2) that the same treatment is to be given to foreign domestic workers when accessing medical services, as with local residents.
At present, Hong Kong employers are required to get “employees compensation insurance,” but medical insurance is optional.
The decision came after a Filipino domestic worker, Bay Jane Allas, was terminated from work after having been diagnosed with cervical cancer in Hong Kong.
With the new proposal set to be presented, Leung explained that as long as a foreign domestic worker is legally staying in Hong Kong, she should be “treated as a local” and enjoy the same health benefits offered in government hospitals and public medical centres.
Leung further shared that many councillors expressed concern and the same sentiment with them regarding the protection of rights of foreign domestic workers in the country.
This should be a positive thing, not only for the domestic workers, but also for their employers as well. If the country’s domestic workers are considered and treated as locals as their health is secured as well, then there will be more opportunities for their employers to take part in the country’s economic activities, which would benefit the overall economy in the long run.