Almost half of the Nepalese domestic workers are underpaid in Hong Kong far below the legally announced minimum pay and do not enjoy entitled holidays. This is according to a recent survey conducted by the Union of Nepalese Domestic Workers in Hong Kong (UNDW) on 106 Nepalese domestic workers between mid-July and late September.
They found that 44.8 per cent of those surveyed were underpaid. The lowest paid interviewee received a wage of HK$1,700 per month. The minimum allowable wage set by the government is HK$4,210 per month, Hong Kong Free Press reports.
The survey also found that 53.5 percent respondents do not get receive the full 24-hour rest day as required by the law. Some interviewees said they are usually allowed an eight-hour rest day, but most respondents said their employer would not allow full 24-hours.
Only around half – 50.5 percent – of respondents said they received annual leave and statutory holidays. Of those who did not have annual leave, 51 percent said they didn’t know about it and 30 percent said their employer would not allow it. Under Hong Kong labour law, foreign domestic workers are entitled to statutory holidays and at least seven days of annual leave.
The survey also revealed that some employers forge documents and make the workers sign payment slips to claim that they are being paid legally – 23% respondents claim they are signing false pay slips.
Since the Nepalese domestic workforce seem to have less knowledge about their rights and fear voicing out their concerns because of contract termination. 70 percent respondents said they have little to no knowledge about their legal rights.
While there are few Nepalese domestic workers in Hong Kong, in comparison to the domestic workers from other ethnicities such as the Filipinos or the Indonesians, they seem to have less interest in offering help or advice and pay little attention to their conditions. Owing to lack of external support systems that could offer help and aid to address concerns of the Nepalese domestic workforce, they feel deprived of their rights.
The Union of Nepalese Domestic Workers in Hong Kong (UNDW) has urged the Labour Department to investigate the situation of South East Asian domestic workers in the country and actively enforce law for their safety and protection.
The union further demanded the government to educate Nepalese workers on their legal rights and actively work with Nepalese and Indian consulates to protect legal rights of South East Asian workforce in Hong Kong.
Image credit: hongkongfp.com