Hong Kong allows domestic helper wages to rise for first time since 2019

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HONG KONG has raised the minimum wage for domestic helpers for the first time since before the pandemic, with Filipinos in domestic service there estimated to receive extra pay equivalent to P750 per month, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said.

In a statement late on Wednesday, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan V. Ople said: “The increase in pay comes after a wage freeze in HK due to the coronavirus pandemic… At a time of rising prices due to a stronger US dollar, this new minimum wage hike is a boon to our domestic workers in HK.”

There were 181,171 overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong as of August, 333,000 of which are domestic workers, according to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Hong Kong.

Last week, the Hong Kong government announced a new minimum wage for foreign domestic workers of 4,730 Hong Kong dollars, up 100 Hong Kong dollars from the last minimum wage set in September 2019.

With the new minimum wage taking effect on Oct. 1, monthly pay for Filipino domestic workers will be equivalent to P35,475.

Taiwan remains the highest-paying destination for domestic workers in the region with monthly salaries equivalent to about P37,200, the DMW noted.

Globally, only about 6% of domestic workers have access to comprehensive protections including medical care, sickness, and unemployment benefits, the International Labor Organization said in June, citing a study it conducted this year.

The Philippines is the only country in Asia and the Pacific that ratified the Domestic Workers Convention in 2011, it noted. 

In 2013, the Philippines passed the Domestic Worker’s Act, which set a minimum wage, benefits, and improved terms of employment for domestic workers.

A survey conducted in 2019 by the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Statistics Authority indicated that 83% of the 1.4 million domestic workers in the Philippines are not covered by social security benefits. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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