Out of fear of getting terminated from their jobs, many foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong simply give in to the demands of their employers when it comes to work routines.
And while it’s important to build a healthy employer-employee work relationship, it’s important that we do not sacrifice our own rights when doing so. After all, who’s going to fight for our rights if not for ourselves? For as long as we understand that we are doing the right thing, and we’ve done other measures to correct a mistake or an error in judgment by our employer so that it does not become a norm at work, then it’s safe to say that you’ve conscientiously done your part – and that there’s support from the government where opportunities for abuse enter the scene.
Know Your Rights: HKD 50,000 Fine Against Employers Who Do Not Provide Rest Days for Domestic Helpers in HK
A lawyer has urged domestic helpers in Hong Kong to know and stand by their right to have a 24-hour rest day, noting that employers may face a fine of up to HKD 50,000 (USD 6,370) if they fail to adhere to this standard labour rule in the state, as reported by Hong Kong News.
Speaking at a forum held at the Philippine Consulate General on March 24, lawyer Louise Le Pla explained that domestic workers who are allowed a full day rest should first talk to their employers to see if the situation can be improved.
Le Pla shared that a rest day is a complete 24 hours, meaning no any form of chores or simple errands such as walking the dog or coming home earlier than scheduled to look after the kids is allowed in respect to this labour law, as any of this can be considered illegal.
Failure to comply with this labour requirement will hold employers liable to a fine of up to HKD 50,000. However, Le Pla also underscored the importance of communication in such situations. If the domestic worker has already communicated her stand on the matter, and the situation does not improve, she may seek assistance from organizations or inform the consulate of the matter.
And finally, Le Pla also understands the concern of some workers over getting terminated should they complain or refuse to perform their tasks outside of their work days and hours. However, she pointed out that the Labour Tribunal had also “enforced” workers’ rights.
This is exactly the kind of situation where critical thinking is required. There is a reason why laws and contracts are formed, and that is to protect the interests of all parties involved. Meaning, neither of the party must be given the shorter stick of the bargain, and if you feel like you’re in that situation, you can always seek for guidance and assistance from concerned agencies and government departments.