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Sing, dance, relax, it's a Sunday

Sing, dance, relax, it's a Sunday

By Rita Sachdeva


Hong Kong, Dec 24 (UNI) Groups of women and men can be seen singing, dancing, doing pedicure, manicure -- generally relaxing and chilling - on the pavements and roadsides on Sundays in this autonomous territory in southeastern China.

These smartly dressed people are foreign domestic helpers who enjoy their holiday at government designated public places -- pavements, roads, parks -- all over Hong Kong.

They are out of their homes early in the morning, packed with food and other things to enjoy their day.

Public gatherings are not allowed otherwise in this autonomous territory but these helpers have the permission to congregate at designated fixed areas on holidays.

These foreign domestic helpers play card and board games, do Tai Chi (an internal Chinese martial art practised for both its defence training and its health benefits), sleep in small camps erected with plastic sheets, do head massages, beauty treatments and want not to relax on their off. But they won't stay at their homes too

By the evening, they pack their things, clean the place and leave for their homes, all refreshed for the duty next day.The foreign domestic helpers comprise people, majorly from Phillpines, Indonesia and in minor percentage from Thailand and India. They perform household tasks such as cooking, serving, cleaning, dishwashing and child care.

To hire a foreign domestic helper, one needs to be a Hong Kong resident with a monthlyhousehold income of no less than HKD 15,000 or assets of comparable amount to support the expenses for the entire (i e two-year) contractual period, according to rules set by the Hong Kong government for hiring foreign domestic workers.

Employees are entitled to 12 statutory holidays according to Lunar Calendar. An employee is granted rest days on Sundays. As both the first day of January (1 January) and National Day (1 October) fall on Sundays, the employer should grant a holiday on the next day (i e January 2 and October 2), but these two days should not be a statutory holiday or an alternative holiday or a substituted holiday or a rest day.

One should pay a foreign domestic helper a salary that is no less than the Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW) announced by the Government and prevailing at the date of signing the employment contract for employing the foreign domestic helper. The MAW is currently set at 4,410 HK Dollars per month.

Under the Standard Employment Contract, an employee must provide the helper with suitable accommodation and with reasonable privacy, free food (or food allowance in lieu, which is HKD 1,053 per month at present) and free passage from the helper’s home country to Hong Kong and return to the home country on termination or expiry of the contract. The above levels of the MAW and food allowance are applicable to all

contracts signed on or after 30 September 2017, according to the Hong Kong Government website.

As stipulated in the Employees' Compensation Ordinance, an employer must take out

insurance policy to cover his/her liability both under the Ordinance and at common law

for injury at work in respect of an employee. In addition, the employers are required to

provide the helper with free medical treatment under the Standard Employment Contract

when he/she is ill or suffers personal injury during the period of employment.

The employers are therefore strongly advised to take out an insurance policy with full

medical and hospitalisation coverage for the helper.The employer may also consider

taking out a comprehensive insurance policy which provides medical and hospitalization

coverage and satisfies the requirement under the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance

at the same time.

A foreign domestic helper should only perform domestic duties for the employer's

residence specified in the contract. The employer should not require or allow the helper

to carry out any work for any other person, otherwise, the helper and/or any aider and

abettor will be liable to criminal prosecution.

In Hong Kong, foreign domestic helpers are entitled to the same benefits and protection

under the labour laws as their local counterparts.

Employees who are owed wages, pay for untaken annual leave and untaken statutory

holidays, wages in lieu of notice and severance payment by insolvent employers can

apply for ex gratia payment from the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund.

Work Orientation and Placement Scheme aims to encourage employers to employ

people with disabilities by offering a financial incentive and providing pre-employment

training to job seekers with disabilities.

Under the Employment Programme for the Middle-aged, it offers employers a training

allowance to encourage them to recruit unemployed job seekers who are aged 40 or

above, and to provide them with on-the-job training.

An employer must comply with all Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF)-related legal

obligations under the law. These include enrolling all qualifying employees in MPF

schemes and making MPF contributions for them.

In India, the Labour Ministry is in the process of codifying the 44 central Labour Laws

that exists at present in four labour codes for the simplification of the same.

The four codes include — Code on wages, Code on industrial relations, Code on social security and Code on safety, health and working conditions.

Besides codification, the Labour Ministry is also planning to nationalise the Labour Laws.

UNI RSA CJ 1053

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