Filipino domestic workers choose to remain in HK despite city conflict, survey finds

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Startup-led survey takes the perspective of an oft-overlooked group on how ExLaw drama has affected their lives.

Photo Credit: Francisco Anzola

A previously unexplored perspective in all the extradition bill noise is that of domestic workers, and the possible effects that the summer’s events have had on their lives. Of the 400,000 domestic workers in Hong Kong, 55% of them are from the Philippines. They play a crucial role in the domestic sphere with 1 out of 7 households employing a helper at home, which allows families to save $700US a month as local carers wages are usually more expensive.

Due to the inclement circumstances in the city, the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) may issue a ban that would prohibit further deployment of Filipino workers to Hong Kong. HelperChoice, a startup focused on protecting domestic workers from exploitation, conducted a survey with 982 domestic workers currently employed in Hong Kong to learn more out the impact the recent unrest and this possible ban has made on this community.

The study’s findings show that most Filipino workers show awareness of the current change in social political climate, with as many as 65% who have witnessed at least one march. The survey recorded that 70% have discussed it with friends in Hong Kong, 60% have spoken with employers on the topic, and 55% who have brought it up with their relatives in the Philippines. 

When it comes to their daily lives, most feel that their work remains unaffected. However, 64% of workers report having to alter their usual activities due to protests on their days off. 

52% are not worried about recent events but 45% are worried – but are unwilling to relocate elsewhere for work. Only 3% claim that they are very concerned over the situation and would move away from Hong Kong; either back home to The Philippines or elsewhere. Some are concerned that their employers would leave Hong Kong if circumstances continued or worsened, which would leave them jobless.

While the overall results of this survey show that the community of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong are not significantly alarmed by the tense state of political and social turmoil, HelperChoice does ask them to take note of any updates to their government’s advisories and to exercise caution on the streets to stay safe

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