Lawmaker: FDHs will have standard working hours if HKers also get the same
Foreign domestic workers will get their long-standing demand for regulated working hours if Hongkongers also have standard working hours, a lawmaker said.
Legislative Council member Kenneth Leung said local Hong Kong workers had also been asking for standard working hours but this has not been granted by government.
He added that he would also look into the request for mandatory food allowances for foreign domestic workers.
“Even Hong Kong people, we are also asking for standard working hours and the government said ‘No, we don’t want to legislate for standard working hours. You have to agree with your employer.’ We have also been asking for that as well,” Leung said in a recent forum at the Philippine Consulate General.
“Many of my colleagues are asking for that—standard working hours for Hong Kong people. This is a very controversial subject,” he said.
“We have been discussing for many years in the council because, I think only if Hong Kong people get it, and then you will get it, automatically. That is the kind of synergy we are talking about. And we are still fighting for it. So, rest assured that we will be looking at this issue from time to time,” he added.
The lawmaker agreed the problem of long working hours was particularly acute among foreign domestic workers, who live with their employers.
“We don’t have standard working hours and you live with your employer. Either one of these needs to be fixed, I think. That is the solution,” Leung said.
He said LegCo members had tried to ask government to review the “live in arrangement” for foreign domestic workers.
“We did discuss that. We did raise it with the government but, the government on the whole, they are very stubborn I’m afraid,” Leung said.
“I think the erratic working hours many of you have experienced is due to the fact that…the rule is that you have to live with the employer. That is the biggest issue you are facing,” he said.
Leung said that if FDHs do not live with their employers, they can leave the house “at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. and then finish.”
“Of course, we have been discussing this. We had heated debates in the council on why should you be required to live with your employer. So, there are pros and cons and the government was not convinced that they should lift this requirement,” Leung said.
“Now of course, every employer should look after you and then you should be given enough rest, enough sleep, enough rest during the day,” he said.
“Especially if you have to wake up very early, then I think you should be allowed to finish work very early. This I think is a dilemma we are facing,” he added.
Overseas Filipino worker Teresita Domdom told the forum that she had been working in Hong Kong for 32 years but until now the issue of long working hours for foreign domestic workers had yet to be addressed adequately.
“Ever since, domestic helpers have been suffering too much work and there are also domestic helpers (who are) awakened in the middle of the (night). Sometimes, they are already sleeping,” Domdom said.
“They just knock and say ‘We need you to serve us.’ More than 18 hours is no longer human,” she added.
Domdom noted that while local workers had no standard working hours, they still have overtime pay while foreign domestic workers do not have overtime pay.