Open Door statement on migrant domestic worker wage review
Since 2009, our group has been of the opinion that Hong Kong should be a fair place to work for all workers who are contributing to the economy, including live-in domestic workers. In 2009, we agreed with the proposal of domestic worker organizations like AMCB which rejected excluding domestic workers from the statutory minimum wage.
A minimum wage should be linked to what is necessary for a decent life for oneself and one’s family. This is why Hong Kong created an hourly minimum wage. People should not be kept in poverty while working, and then blamed for calling on the government for assistance. The wage should be enough for one’s living.
Now the monthly minimum wage for domestic workers is $4,100. This is about $137/day. The proposed minimum wage demanded by AMCB migrant domestic worker coalition is now $4,500. This is $150/day.
We believe this is more than reasonable. The typical hourly rate for local house cleaners is $80/hour. Thus, as employers, we are getting a great deal, when we hire a live-in domestic worker. If we pay $160 a day, we get just two hours local cleaners’ labour. But if we pay $150 a day, as well as food and housing, we get an additional 8-12 hours of work which includes cooking, shopping and many other important home tasks like child care and elderly care.
Besides the cost to us, we can make sure that the domestic workers have enough for their needs in Hong Kong as well as enough to send back to their families. If we pay them a more reasonable amount, it is less likely that they will be tempted to borrow money and fall into debt, which brings other risks to themselves and to employers.
In sum, we firmly support the reasonable demand of migrant domestic workers for an increase of the monthly minimum wage to HK$4,500.