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Pay hike for domestics in HK

At least 170,000 overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong, mostly household service workers, will receive a pay increase starting Oct. 1, 2015 after the Hong Kong Labor Department approved the increase in the minimum wage of foreign workers in the former British colony, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said on Wednesday.

The Hong Kong government moved  to increase the minimum allowable wage and food allowance of foreign household service workers, saying, it would at least improve the welfare of the families of thousands of OFWs working in Hong Kong.

“The Hong Kong Labor Department will implement an increase of minimum allowable wage and food allowance for foreign household service workers, and this will benefit our Filipino household service workers in Hong Kong who have signed their employment contract on or after 1 October 2015,” Baldoz said.

“Effective 1 October 2015 the new minimum allowable wage would not be less than HK$4,210, while the food allowance would be not less than HK$995.00 per month,” Baldoz said, citing the report of Philippine Overseas Labor Office  Hongkong Assistant Labor Attaché Nena G. German.

The  new amount  represents a 2.4-percent  increase  from $4,110 to $4,210 per month.  

She said that the Hong Kong Labor Department announced the increase last Sept. 30 in a meeting with the officers from the Consulate Generals of India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

“The existing MAW of HK$4,110.00 and food allowance of HK$964.00 will still be accepted, provided that the contract are signed on or before 30 September 2015, and processed by the Philippine Consulate on or before 19 October 2015,” she said.

Under the Standard Employment Contract for hiring foreign household service workers, Hong Kong employers are required to provide the foreign HSWs with free food. 

Majority of employers provide free food to foreign HSWs.Employers may, however, choose to pay a food allowance in lieu of the provision of free food.

If the employers choose to pay food allowance to foreign household service workers, the allowance will be increased by $31 (or 3.2 percent) from not less than $964 to not less than $995 per month.

The new level of MAW and food allowance will apply to all foreign household service workers who have signed their contracts on or after  Oct. 1.

A Hong Kong government spokesperson said that in accordance with the established practice, the government reviews the MAW for foreign HSWs regularly, adding that in this year’s review, it carefully considered the Hong Kong’s general economic and labor market situations over the last year, as reflected through a ‘basket of economic indicators,’ including the relevant income movement and price change.

It also reviewed the food allowance in lieu of free food, and decided to make an increase, giving due regard to the movement in the relevant consumer price index.

The MAW and food allowance seeks to protect foreign HSWs from excessively low wages and protect local domestic workers from competition with foreign household service workers.

According to the new rate, employers may choose to provide the foreign household service workers with terms better than the MAW and food allowance, depending on their individual circumstances.

“Foreign household service workers’ contracts signed on Sept. 30, 2015, or earlier, at the existing MAW of $4,110 per month, and food allowance of not less than $964 per month, will still be processed by the Immigration if the applications will reach the Immigration Department on or before   28 October 2015.

This arrangement is expected to give employers sufficient time to send the signed contracts to the Immigration Department for the completion of the necessary application,” she added.

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