The Government announced today (September 30) that the Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW) for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong is to be increased by $90 from $3,920 to $4,010 per month, up by 2.3 per cent.
Under the Standard Employment Contract for hiring FDHs, employers are required to provide FDHs with food free of charge. At present, the vast majority of employers provide free food to FDHs. Employers may, however, also choose to pay a food allowance in lieu.
If employers choose to provide FDHs with a food allowance, the allowance will be increased by $45 from not less than $875 to not less than $920 per month, i.e. an increase of 5.1 per cent. The new levels of MAW and food allowance will apply to all FDH contracts signed on or after tomorrow (October 1).
The Government spokesman said, “The Government has all along regularly reviewed the MAW for FDHs. In this year’s review, we have carefully considered Hong Kong’s general economic and employment situation, as reflected through a basket of economic indicators including the relevant income movement, price change and labour market situation, as well as the affordability of employers. After careful consideration of the economic indicators, and the need to strike a balance between the affordability of employers and the livelihoods of FDHs, the Government has decided to make the above-mentioned adjustment.”
The spokesman added, “The Government has also reviewed the food allowance in lieu of free food and decided to make an increase, having regard to the movement in the relevant consumer price index.”
The spokesman stressed that the MAW and food allowance are only a minimum standard, which are set to protect FDHs from exploitation and to protect local workers from competition with low-wage foreign workers. Employers may choose to provide FDHs terms better than the MAW and food allowance, depending on their individual circumstances.
FDH contracts signed today or earlier at the existing MAW of $3,920 per month and food allowance of not less than $875 per month will still be processed by the Immigration Department (ImmD) provided that the applications will reach ImmD on or before October 28, 2013. This arrangement will give employers sufficient time to send the signed contracts to ImmD for completion of the necessary application procedures.