Thousands of Indonesian maids in Hong Kong illegally underpaid

Other News Materials 16 February 2009 05:05 (UTC +04:00)

More than 10,000 Indonesian women working as live-in maids in Hong Kong are being illegally underpaid, with some receiving just half the legal salary, according to a survey Monday, dpa reported.

The survey of foreign domestic helpers found that 12 per cent of Indonesian maids in the city of 6.9 million are paid less than the government-set minimum wage of 460 US dollars a month.

In some cases, the women received as little as 230 US dollars a month, half the legal minimum wage, according to researchers for the welfare pressure group Caritas which interviewed around 600 maids.

A study by the same organisation two years ago found Indonesian maids were the most commonly abused of all foreign women working as live-in domestic helpers in the former British colony.

More than 200,000 foreign maids work in Hong Kong. The biggest group comes from the Philippines numbering around 120,000, followed by some 110,000 Indonesian maids.

Many employers switched from Filipino to Indonesian maids during the 2003 SARS crisis, as agencies across the city offered families the chance to save money by employing maids at illegally low wages.

Employers caught underpaying foreign maids can be fined or even jailed but offenders are rarely prosecuted and maids are often too frightened to complain to police for fear of being deported.