Domestic workers in Hong Kong “trapped” at work due to Covid-19

Hong Kong domestic helpers have spoken out over being “trapped” in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Hong Kong domestic helpers who live in have found they can no longer have a day off from their employment after bosses say they must stay indoors.

 Eni Lestari, an Indonesian domestic helper  would usually take a bus from her employer’s home in Yau Ma Tei to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on Sundays to gather with friends.

But she said this has no longer been their weekly routine since the Covid-19 pandemic was getting more and more severe. Many employers require their domestic helpers to stay home for health and safety concerns.

Ms Lestari said, “Victoria Park no longer the cheerful meeting place it used to be.”

Thomas Ng, 45, an employer of domestic helper said: “ We can’t risk life for a day off. I have a newborn baby and a 78 years old father who also lives with me.

“ Elderly and infant are at higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19. I usually require my domestic helper to stay home on her rest day to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”

Wadi Adham, 37, a domestic helper working in Hong Kong for 11 years said: “Staying home on the rest day, my movements have been restricted by the employers. ”

Every employer must permit their domestic helper a day off for a continuous period of at least 24 hours every 7 days. An employer is not allowed to force a domestic helper to work on the rest day.

Mr Ng said: “ In order to ask the domestic helper to stay in on her day off, I will pay her extra salary if necessary.”

According to the Hong Kong Labour Department, it is illegal to pay an extra salary for requiring the domestic helper to work on the day off.

Written by Yim Wun Wan

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