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Managing labour migration: The case of the Filipino and Indonesian domestic helper market in Hong Kong 29

6.5 Main employment concerns

The Survey aimed to compare employment conditions and experiences across the first and current FDH contracts in order to test whether (and to what extent) work situations changed over multiple employment experiences. However, several factors preclude such an analysis. For one, insufficient data was collected to control for potentially influential factors on the FDH’s experience, including: whether the FDH obtained employment via direct hiring or was placed by a recruitment agency; whether the employer and/or recruitment agency remained constant over multiple contracts; the

national origin and socio-economic status of the employer(s); the number

held (if more than two);



and whether contracts were completed or limiting analysis of employment conditions

of contracts prematurely to contracts

within the last

two years

than capturing

the effects

allowed for insight on current policies of policies no longer in practice.




For these reasons, the analyses of employment conditions surveyed were restricted to respondents whose current contract is their first contract in Hong Kong – hereafter these will be referred to as the Subgroup. Included in the Subgroup are FDHs that were terminated during their first contract but have yet to enter a second contract. The maximum number of FDHs in this category is 57 (note: the total number of respondents will change per question due to non-responses).

Overcharging: Current Hong Kong law sets the maximum placement fee recruitment agencies may charge FDHs at ten percent of their first month’s salary. Based on the Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW) over the past two years, the legal salary deduction was HK$ 340 in 2006 and HK$ 348 in 2007. Within the Subgroup, 36 FDHs (8 Filipinos and 28 Indonesians) paid a fee while they were employed in Hong Kong. All of the Indonesians paid fees beyond the legal amount, ranging from HK$ 1,532 for six months to HK$ 3,000 for seven months. In contrast, no Filipino was overcharged according to Hong Kong law.

Recalling agency fees paid by Filipinos prior to arriving in Hong Kong, 3 of the Filipino FDHs surveyed were overcharged according to POEA regulations (see

Appendix I). Employment agencies Philippines only covered the cost of

may argue that the amount charged in the documentation, which is legal according to

Philippine law. It is interesting

Without data from official receipts, to note the method of payment for

these assertions cannot be verified. agency fees varies across the two

populations, reflecting their noted to have relied on an

different migration infrastructures. intermediary to transfer payments

Filipinos surveyed to the employment

agencies back


bank account,


As one Filipino explained, she deposited her salary the agency could access to withdraw fees. Another

into her Filipino

local FDH

stated frequent use of Manila. Indonesian deductions.

the local 7-Eleven convenient store to remit respondents, however, covered placement

agency fees back to fees through salary

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