Managing labour migration: The case of the Filipino and Indonesian domestic helper market in Hong Kong 13
lead to a “race to the bottom12.” Both sets of overseas workers come from populous countries facing high unemployment and vast poverty. As is the case with most low- skilled migrant workers, FDHs in Hong Kong possess little to no bargaining power to improve their situations or demand fair and full wages.
4.2 Government policy towards foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong
4.2.1 Migrant receiving country policy: Hong Kong
As one of the few destinations where migrant workers enjoy full and equal statutory labor rights and benefits as local workers, Hong Kong is a high migration infrastructure state.13 Current policy requires that all employers enter into a standard employment contract with their FDH. The contract sets out key employment terms such as wage level (which cannot fall below the MAW presently at HK$ 3,480 per month), free food
and accommodation, free medical treatment and return passage. In accordance with the standards set forth in ILO Convention 97,14
Hong Kong also
offers FDHs free and full access to a range of services provided by the Labor Department (LD), including consultation and conciliation services for labor disputes with employers and a 24-hour enquiry hotline service. Likewise, FDHs may seek redress through the legal system. They may be granted legal aid if they meet the eligibility criteria, which are applicable to both local and migrant workers.
12 “Race to the bottom” is a theoretical phenomenon that occurs when competition between nations or states (in this case, over the FDH labor market) leads to the progressive dismantling of regulatory standards.
13 14 For explanation on high migration infrastructure state, refer to “Frameworks” section of PAE. Ratified in 1951, Hong Kong is one of 46 nations to have signed onto to ILO Convention 97. For further explanation on C-97, refer to “Frameworks” chapter.