HelperPlace New Survey Reveals the Loosen Travel Restrictions is Not Enough to Cover the Demand of Domestic Helper
The looser travel restrictions for
the domestic helper is not enough to cover the high demand of local families; given
the current difficulty and cost to hire overseas helpers, local helpers are
constantly in shortage
Despite frozen minimum wage, 9.60% annual average increase in
domestic helper monthly salary, so employers need to offer a higher
salary to easier find a helper
Domestic helpers working conditions
need concern, especially under pandemic
HONG KONG SAR - Media OutReach - 9
December 2021 - For the 3rd consecutive year, HelperPlace has been surveying the average monthly salary of foreign
domestic helpers working in Hong Kong. This year, HelperPlace conducted an
online survey among domestic helpers in Hong Kong from January 2021 to December
2021 and received over 12,501 responses. One of the objectives is to measure
the impact of the pandemic on the job market. The results provide insights into
the actual average salary, factors affecting salary, expectations, and working
conditions of helpers in 2021.
The Significant Impact of the
Increase in Salary in 2021
HelperPlace's annual salary survey
has been conducted three years in a row. In 2021, the average actual monthly
salary for a foreign domestic helper is HK$5,288. The average monthly salary for
2019 and 2020 are $4,765 and $4,825, respectively. It reveals a significant
annual increase of 9.60% from 2020 to 2021 compared to only 1.26% from 2019 to
2020. Since 2019 September, the minimum monthly salary has been frozen at HK$4,630
by the government.
In the context of the travel
restrictions, the shortage of overseas helpers has brought up the market
salary. Even though the government has loosened up the restrictions, the
population of overseas workers has decreased by over 20,000 in less than a year.
The struggle to book quarantine rooms for helpers due to its limited number,
the long process, and the extra cost of HK$15,000 (fees for quarantine hotel
and food) to hire an overseas helper push employers to find other solutions. As
a result, employers have a preference for hiring foreign domestic helpers who
are already settled in Hong Kong. Therefore this phenomenon creates a large
demand for a limited pool of workers. The results show that the impact of the
COVID on domestic helper salary has been fully reflected in 2021.
Territorial Difference of Salary
The survey shows the territorial
difference in average salary among domestic helpers. The Hong Kong Island has
the highest average salary with HK$5,612, followed by Kowloon of HK$5,148, and
the least in New Territories with HK$5,093.
Factors of Domestic Helper Salary
Besides salary, the survey also
conducted interviews on the working hours, no. of kid, and the years of
helpers' experience. The average salary increases with the number of years of
experience of helpers. However, the results show a shocking negative
relationship between workload in relation to salary. The higher the working
hour and the number of kids in the employer's family, the lower the salary. It
reflects that domestic helper salary is not reflecting their workload.
Based on the survey, the hiring
channel is one of the important factors for salary. The average salary ranks
lowest for the agency ($4,683), then online platform ($5,393), and highest for
employer referral with $5,418. This can be explained by the fact that direct
hiring through online platforms and employer referral can save a considerable
amount of agency fees, create more trust, and result in higher monthly
The working hour and working
conditions still need improvement
The survey also reflects on the long
working hours issue and poor working conditions of some domestic helpers in
Hong Kong. For instance, nearly 61% of respondents work over 12 hours a day.
According to Hong Kong law,
employers are obligated to provide food allowance or free food to domestic
helpers. 81% of the survey respondents said their employers provide free food,
and 12% out of them said that they do not have enough food provided by employers.
For the living conditions, most
respondents either have their separate room (56%) or share a room with kids
(20%), elderlies (2%), or other workers (10%). However, around 11% of
respondents stay in the living room, bathroom, or kitchen of the employer's
house. About 1% of respondents are live-out, although the law forbids it.
Despite the poor working and living
conditions for some domestic helpers, over 70% of respondents find the
relationship with the employer at least acceptable or better.
Forecast for next year
There is no doubt that the travel
restriction will persist for a few more months. This may result in a more
severe shortage of local helpers, assuming the same domestic helper quotas for
entering Hong Kong. In the last 3 months, it was not rare to see workers asking
for more than HK$7,000 per month.
Despite the higher bargaining power
for a better salary, the local helpers who have finished their 2-year contracts
are also looking for better working conditions, such as separate rooms, lower
workloads, and locations in Hong Kong Island to conveniently hang out with
friends on weekends. It is undeniable that employers who have better offers can
attract domestic helpers to start or continue working for them. It will create
more difficulties for the middle class and lower-income families.
HelperPlace is an ethical platform for foreign domestic workers founded
in Hong Kong in 2016. With the largest domestic helper community of 170,000+
members and collaborating with NGOs or international organizations, it was
recognized as creating a fair impact on this community. Its website and mobile
app allow helpers to connect freely with potential employers, providing an
alternative to the traditional employment agency.