Most issues domestic workers encounter can be avoided if there is a better understanding of their rights.
When HELP rebranded earlier this year, we developed a code of conduct for employers to complement the relevant provisions in the Hong Kong Employment Ordinance and other existing applicable laws and regulations.
One of our regular volunteers, Jason Ng, has shared his own checklist for to help you determine if you could be treating your domestic worker better. If you’re interested in what else Jason has to say, read about why he is an advocate for foreign domestic workers rights and his experience volunteering with HELP here.
For a reality check, I've put together a checklist for people to gauge how well they treat their domestic workers. I ask them to keep the answers to themselves so that they can be completely honest. If they do more than three of the things on the list, then they're mistreating their workers and should consider doing things differently.
- You or your family members often walk into your domestic worker's room without knocking, or you knock but open the door without waiting for her permission to enter.
- When you or your family members go grocery shopping with your domestic worker, you let her carry all the bags even though your hands are free.
- You or your family members expect your domestic worker to eat in the kitchen by herself at meal time.
- You or your family members wake your domestic worker up at night regardless of the hour (e.g. 2 or 3am) when you need her help, e.g. if the baby starts crying.
- Your domestic worker’s room at home is not air-conditioned even though the rest of the apartment is, because you don't want to spend the money on an A/C unit or pay higher utility bills.
- When you or your family members can't find an item at home, your first thought is whether your domestic worker has taken it.
- If your domestic worker accidentally breaks something, you deduct the cost from her next paycheck.
- You or your family members have referred to your domestic worker as "lazy," "dumb" or "useless" (in her absence) in front of others.
- You or your family members have created a timetable for your domestic worker. The timetable is full of tasks because you expect her to be busy and productive throughout the day.
- You think your domestic worker is lucky to have a job in Hong Kong and you don't pay her a dollar more than the legal minimum (currently HK$4,310 a month).
Jason Y. Ng is a bestselling author, news columnist, and adjunct associate law professor at the University of Hong Kong. He is a co-founder and President of PEN Hong Kong, one of 145 PEN centers around the world that promote literature and defend the freedom of expression. For years, Ng has been an outspoken advocate for the rights of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, writing extensively about the challenges they face and working with support groups including Help for Domestic Workers, the Wimler Foundation and Pathfinders Hong Kong. For more, visit www.jasonyng.com.