Practice makes perfect.

It is possible that you may find yourself in a situation similar to the ones given below.  The sample conversations are examples of how a domestic worker might want to respond in such a situation.  But, each actual interaction with an employer will have its own history and circumstances.  Not every employer will respond in the same way.  Not every employer-worker relationship is the same.  Use these scenarios as general guidelines and suggestions, not as strict rules to be followed.  Always use good judgement and common sense.

What do you do when you are being asked by your employer to sign a false receipt? What do you say?

Never let yourself get pressured into signing any kind of a statement that is false.

Employer:  “Anna, here is your pay and here is the receipt for you to sign.”

DW:  (making eye contact, speaking clearly) “Ma’am, this receipt says you are paying me $3460, but you are only giving me $2000.”

Employer: “I don’t have the rest of the money right now.  I will have to go to the bank.  I’ll give it to you next week.  You can just go ahead and sign the receipt now.”

DW:  (Offering alternative) “I’m sorry, Ma’am, but I cannot sign this receipt because it does not show the money I am getting now.  I can’t sign a receipt that isn’t true.  I can either wait and sign the receipt after you give me all of my pay, or you can change the amount that is written on the receipt and then I will sign another receipt later for the rest of my pay”

Employer:  (getting angry, loud, swearing) I said I would pay you next week! Just sign the damn receipt!!

DW:  (staying calm, reminding of contractual agreement) Ma’am, I just can’t sign a receipt that isn’t true.  And also, we agreed on my pay day.  You signed the contract, and we have an agreement, don’t we?   I should not have to wait until next week for my pay.

Employer:   (angrier) How can you be so ungrateful!  I’ve treated you so well!

DW: (staying calm, maintaining eye contact) I know you’ve treated me well (only addressing one issue at a time), and I want to work very hard for you and do things the way you like them.  But, Mrs. Chen, I still can’t sign a receipt that isn’t true and I should get my money on the day that you agreed to give it to me.

 

What do you do when your employer tells you he needs you to clean his mother’s house because his mother’s worker went on home leave?  What do you say?

Working at an address other than the one written on your contract is illegal. 

Employer: “Eva, my mother’s worker went on home leave so I need you to go over there this afternoon and clean her house and prepare dinner for her. 

DW: (making eye contact, speaking clearly) “Sir, I am sorry but I cannot clean and cook for your mother because it is against the law to work at an address that is not the one written on my contract.”

Employer: (shaking his head, becoming angry) “We do not need to tell anyone about this arrangement since it is only temporary. You follow my orders and go to my mother’s house!

DW: (remaining calm, maintaining eye contact) “Sir, I cannot follow your instructions in this situation. The Immigration Department is very strict about domestic workers only working at the address listed on their contract. If we disobey the law we could both be arrested and penalized.

Employer: (pointing his finger at Eva) If you do not do this, I will fire you and find someone else who will do this!

DW: (remaining calm, addressing issue at hand) If you feel the need to fire me then that is your decision. I hope you realize that I am just trying to follow the law just as I follow rules that you establish in your own home but I cannot obey your unlawful order.

If your employer fires you after you refuse to work in a different address, the employer will have to pay all the entitlements that are owed to you such as wages in arrears, wages in lieu of notice, air ticket and travel allowance.  You may then ask the Immigration Department for special consideration to allow you to apply for change of employment without having to leave Hong Kong stating that you were dismissed because you had disobeyed your employer’s order for you to work illegally.

Additional Resources for Domestic Workers

Understanding Your Contract