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How can we keep our helpers?

Gone are the days when being a domestic helper in Hong Kong was a top career choice for Filipino women. With increasing employment opportunities in the Philippines and other countries, the question keeps coming up my mind – How can we keep our domestic helpers?


Due to the robust growth of the Philippines’ economy, at an annual growth rate as fast as mainland China, [1] a host of well-paid local employment options have arisen. The median monthly salary is currently around 29,000 Pesos, [2] which converts to about $4,339, and is predicted to grow steadily by 6.3% per annum. [3]

Coupled with the effect of the new law in the Philippines which mandates overseas workers to pay about $350 a month in social security contributions, [4] staying in the Philippines is predicted to be an increasingly popular option among Filipino women.


On top of local employment opportunities, there are many places other than Hong Kong which hire domestic workers on lucrative terms. Notably, there is a surging demand for Filipino domestic workers among the upper-middle class in China – They are willing to offer up to $15,000 to hire an English-speaking domestic worker to be the nanny as well as English teacher for their children. [5] China apart, European countries like France and Canada, as well as Asian countries such as Japan and Korea also offer far better remuneration than Hong Kong does. [6]

Wages are uncompetitive, so are the other employment terms: While countries including Canada, Kuwait and France enforce maximum working hours, [7] domestic workers are forced to live with their employers and work for as long as their employers require; while Canada, Italy and many other destinations enable workers to apply for permanent residency after a certain number of years of service, [8] the right of abode of domestic workers was flatly rejected by Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal in 2013. [9] Coupled with the two-week rule, unchecked agency fees and frequent cases of abuse, I cannot think of any reason why we deserve to have these dedicated domestic workers at our service.

Facing an ageing population, the demand for domestic workers is anticipated to hike by a further 240,000 in the next 30 years. [10] It is high time for Hong Kong to rethink how we should be treating our domestic helpers. Otherwise, time will prove how costly it can be to take our foreign domestic helpers for granted.

(400 words)


References and further reads:

[1] Philippines Growth to Remain Strong Despite Global Uncertainty:

[2] Average Salary in Philippines 2018 by Salaryexplorer:

[3] Salary increases in the Philippines signal positive outlook amidst stable economic growth:

[4] Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong facing more expenses as new law forces them to make social security contributions back home:

[5] Filipino Maids to make HK $15,000 in China (31 July 2017):

[6] Domestic Helper’s New Information (2018 Update):

[7] HK Helpers Campaign – A campaign for Hong Kong’s Domestic Workers – Enforcing Maximum working hours:

[8] Canada No. 1 Destination for Maids (1 October 2011):

[9] Vallejos Evangeline Banao also known as Vallejos Evangeline B. and Daniel Domingo L. v. Commissioner of Registration and Registration of Persons Tribunal (FACV 19 and 20/2012), available on:

[10] Hong Kong will need 600,000 domestic helpers in the next 30 years amid demand for elderly care, labour chief says (5 November 2017):

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