Roundtable draws up next steps for FDW rights

One of the most significant efforts to explore how foreign domestic workers’ (FDWs) rights can be respected under the law took place on Saturday.

Nearly 100 non-profit and NGO chairs and leaders, general consuls and their representatives, lawmakers and professors, met at the University of Hong Kong as part of a Roundtable on Domestic Workers.

The event, co-organised by the Center for Comparative and Public Law and the Public Interest Law and Advocacy Society, was structured around “Three Asks,” or three concrete steps that can and should be taken by both HKSAR and “sending states” – primarily Indonesia and the Philippines – which send FDWs to Hong Kong:

  • 1st Ask: In order to address gaps in data collection and monitoring of employment agencies (EAs), which implicitly result in the gross under-enforcement of laws, establish:
    • a joint Police-Immigration-Labour reporting unit, and;
    • an inter-departmental working group on domestic worker issues. This unit would serve to simplify a needlessly complex system in which the responsibility to regulate EAs passes endlessly from one branch of government to the next, or else languishes because of a lack of data corroborating the need for action.
  • 2nd Ask: Establish an induction and orientation programme for domestic workers and employers. This would help to empower workers by making them aware of their rights, and encourage best practices among employers by informing them of their responsibilities and legal obligations.
  • 3rd Ask: Establish an inter-governmental working group. This would provide a crucial connection between the HKSAR and sending states on domestic worker issues, adding much-needed clarity to the measures that need to be taken at the sending state level.

The afternoon session featured presentations by both the Indonesian consulate and the Filipino consulate. The implicit aim was to review current practices and open a space for commitments on taking specific next steps. For a full summary of the day’s proceedings and discussion, please visit the website of the Center for Comparative and Public Law at

Scott Carpenter

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