For Domestic Workers

ENRICH PROGRAMMES ICONS-08_Financial Counselling
Enrich is a local Hong Kong charity that provides financial and empowerment education for migrant domestic workers. Learn more about Enrich by visiting our website and following our Enrich page: Enrich HK or our Bahasa Indonesia page: Enrich – Bahasa Indonesia.
Our hotline is available for domestic workers with questions about financial issues: 2386 5811 or participant@enrichhk.org. You can also friend Maria Enrich on Facebook to get updates on upcoming workshops and other useful information.
Enrich recommends:
>>Download the FAIR App for a directory and resources for both domestic workers and employers of domestic workers: iTunes, Google Play

1. SALARIES, RIGHTS AND PROTECTION

How much is the minimum wage and food allowance for domestic migrant workers?

  • According to Hong Kong Labour Department, the minimum wage for foreign domestic workers is $4,310 HKD.
  • Under no circumstances are employers and migrant workers allowed to agree to pay anything below this minimum wage.
  • If an employer insists on paying less than the minimum wage you can contact the Hong Kong Labour Department.
  • If your employer does not provide you with reasonable food, you are entitled to a food allowance as stated in section 5(b) of your standard employment contract. Domestic workers are entitled to a food allowance amounting to HK$1,037 per month if the employer does not provide food.
  • Please read your contract carefully before signing to make sure that you will be paid the correct amount of salary.
 

Am I entitled to overtime pay and days off?

  • Overtime pay and bonuses are discretionary. It is best to discuss work hours and overtime pay with your employer before signing a contract to have a clear understanding of expectations.
  • You are entitled to one full days rest (24 hours) every 7 days and 12 statutory holidays a year. Legally your employer can give you a day off instead of a statutory holiday but cannot pay you to work on a statutory holiday.

What can I do if I am being harassed or abused at work?

  • Sexual Harassment, sexual discrimination and abuse are an illegal offence by Hong Kong Law.
  • If you experience any sexual harassment or discrimination, you need to say NO firmly, write down what happened, talk to someone about it and get help.
  • See Enrich’s guide to Stop Discrimination Against Women for more details. Enrich’s Speak UP workshop can also help you gain the confidence to speak up against harassment and abuse.
  •  See the HDH’s Understanding Your Rights page and Other organizations and information that helps migrants for more details on your rights and what you can do if they are not being respected.

2. MANAGING MONEY AND OPENING A HONG KONG BANK ACCOUNT

What are the requirements if I want to open a bank account here in Hong Kong?

Different banks have different requirements from clients who want to open new accounts. And, true that it is ideal for you to open a separate bank account for yourself here in Hong Kong. This way your employer can directly deposit your salary.  If you intend to open one, express anddiscuss this with employer as you may need some documents from them such as proof of address and contract too. Below is the table of requirements and information about some local Hong Kong banks from www.thehelpinasia.com
Name of Bank/Requirments

Citibank

HSBC

Standard Chartered

Bank of

China

Hang Seng

BEA

Documents to support address Both HK and home country address need to be verified an utility bill, bank statement or similar document Address in the Original Employment Contract is acceptable HK address needs to be verified by an utility bill, bank statement or similar document Address in the Original Employment Contract is acceptable Address in the Original Employment Contract is acceptable Address in the Original Employment Contract is acceptable
Original Employment contract No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Passport or HKID Either Both Both Both Both Both
Minimum Monthly Balance Requirement HKD10000 otherwise HKD100 charge HKD5000 otherwise HKD 50 charge HKD10000 otherwise charges apply No Minimum No Minimum HKD5000 otherwise charges apply
Over the Counter Withdrawal fee No fee No fee No fee HKD20 HKD20 No fee
Other information The initial deposit is HKD2000.The letter from the Philippines/ Indonesian or other country consulate endorsing the domestic helpers status must also be produced. Annual ATM card fee of HKD50

I have several siblings and family members dependent on my salary, how can I save?

  •  ­It is very much the same as other migrants, too many are depending on the salary of migrants, but such expectations should be managed. It is important to discuss with family members about limitations of the support you can send back home.
  • If other members of the family are able bodied and can still find work, encourage them to find productive work with pay.
  • If parents are too old to work or children are too young, it is important to discuss with them how they can save on certain expenses so they can also help.

What is the best way to manage my salary?

  •  We encourage migrants to immediately set aside a fixed amount of monthly savings as soon as the salary is received. It is best if this money can be put into a separate savings account that you cannot access easily to avoid withdrawing money from it.
  • Prepare a budget for the remaining amount and make sure that the most important things are accounted for.
  • We also recommend migrants to attend the Enrich’s Money Wise Migrants workshop to learn how to save and make a budget.

How can I save money?

  • Prioritise needs, discuss with your family members and clarify expectations.
  • Monitor expenses and make sure that you make adjustments if you see yourself spending too much on unnecessary expenses.
  • Calculate your long term saving goals and make a budget to ensure that you save enough to meet these goals. Enrich’s Moneywise Migrants workshop will give you the tools to do this.
  • Get the Enrich Financial and Activity Planner to help you track expenses and review your monthly budgets.

3. LOANS AND BORROWING MONEY

What is the difference between a loan agency and a bank?

  • Banks receive and process deposits and withdrawals. They safeguard your money for you. Banks also give out loans. Loan agencies only give out loans and will require you to make repayments to your loan. Loan agencies usually charge higher interest rates than banks, so be careful to not get confused with the use of the term “bank” to refer to loan agencies.
  • Many loan agencies offer and ‘lure’ migrants to taking out loan, be very careful. If you do not need to borrow, don’t.

If I really need to borrow money, where can I go?

Identify and understand what you need the money for, make sure it is something very important and that you are able to meet your repayment obligations.
  • It is best to talk to your employer about taking out a salary advance if they are willing and can afford it and arrange payment terms with them rather than taking out a loan with friends which might cause you to end up borrowing more than what you need and paying a very high interest rate.
  • If you need to borrow from a loan agency, make sure that you go to a legitimate loan agency and that interest rates are reasonable.
  • Remember to NEVER USE YOUR PASSPORT AS A COLLATERAL.
  • MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY FOR YOUR MONTHLY REPAYMENT DUES TO AVOID HIGH INTEREST RATE SURCHARGES AND PENALTIES and avoid re-loaning unless the interest rates of the new loan are much lower.

4. INVESTING

I want my earnings to grow. Where should I invest my money?

  • KNOW THAT INVESTING INVOLVES DIFFERENT RISK LEVELS. The higher the interest the higher the risk. If the interest rate offered sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • There is no one best investment for everyone. You have to understand your risk appetite (the level of risk you can and are willing to take) before you invest and know the purpose why you are investing, is it for the short term, medium term or long term).
  • Do not attempt to borrow money or take out a loan for investment purposes. Money for investments should be any extra money you may have that you do not need to use in the short term.
  • Make sure you fully understand the investment opportunity and the associated risk before deciding to make any investment (Risk = the chances of losing your money to an investment) Read our article on Investment Red Flags 
To understand more about basic concepts on investments, attend Enrich’s Growing Your Money workshop

5.  REMITTANCE AND PHONE SUBSCRIPTION

Where is the best place to remit money for my family back home?

There are several things to consider when deciding where to remit money for your family members back home:  
  1. Exchange rate: shop around and check for the best possible exchange rate you can get for your hard earned money.
  2. Cable charge/fee: check for the lowest charge per remittance, and if possible remit only once a month to save on this cost.
  3. Accessibility: You may need to check how much it will cost you to remit money in certain areas if you need to travel far, calculate how much difference it will make when you factor in transportation expenses and other related costs. The same applies for your family members who will receive the money.
  4. Security: Ensure that you remit money through proper and secured channels to avoid losing the money along the way.

Will it be better to have a phone subscription or use “pay as you go” or “top up cards” to pay for your phone?

Good question, many migrants spend a lot of money on communication costs. It is because they are not very conscious about the amount they are spending, and some migrants even maintain several phone units. Thus, when deciding about how to pay for your phone, consider the following:
    Going for subscription: 
    1. The monthly subscription charge and other related costs especially if you will consider getting a data plan to maximize free sms and calls through wifi services;
    2. The rate charged for calls and SMS in and outside of Hong Kong;
    3. Any extra charge if you go beyond your data plan, as well as the provided free call minutes and text messages;
    4. Length of contract period, and how much it will cost if you will have to cut your contract short.
    Pay as you Go topping up via recharge vouchers:
    1. Rate of call per minute as well as text messages, especially for communicating outside Hong Kong;
    2. Administration fee costs if there are any;
Best to ask yourself what will be most efficient and cost effective in terms of securing your phone via plan or top up. But, whatever it is you decide, you have to maintain discipline in using it to ensure that you do not spend too much money on it. Also, make sure to use your phone for personal concerns during break time or after work hours. Avoid using and exchanging messages while at work, especially when taking care of a child.   

 

See also: