Modern Slavery The Hardship of Hong Kong Domestic Workers

23/01/2014 - 2:25pm

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1. Agencies out-sourcing responsibilities

All agencies are required to obtain licenses in Hong Kong and Indonesia. Yet many contracts are referral cases from agencies with licenses only in Hong Kong or Indonesia. Agencies from both places can shirk responsibilities, whereas domestic helpers cannot seek help from either side. 

2. Passport confiscated

Almost all agencies force domestic workers to give their passports to employers. Therefore they have no way to escape even if they are abused.

3. Forced debt, continuous threatening 

Domestic workers are always requested by agencies to borrow money to pay for the service charge. Workers would not be able to leave in order to fix the debt. If they are unable to settle the debt, finance companies will disturb their families in Indonesia.

4. Lack of food and rest

It is not uncommon that employers provide insufficient food for workers, or force them to eat outside. Sometimes workers are required to serve at midnight, which further reduces their sleeping hours.

5. Unlimited workload

Workload of domestic workers is not standardized. Agencies would not accept workers' complaints of being overloaded. 

6. Outdated regulation on employers' income

The regulation on minimum income of employer ($15,000) was set 20 years ago without any revision. While Hong Kong people nowadays with lower income can also hire domestic workers, they may not be able to provide suitable working conditions for domestic helpers.

Editorial: We have got a lot of requests for translations since we report on the working condition of Hong Kong domestic workers. We realized that it is necessary to spread the information to prevent other abuse cases. It is a pity that none of us know Indonesian or Tagalog, and therefore we made this English translation version.