A few questions for my friend who is a DH

Posted by forkspoon 4 yrs ago
Are there any regulations on what food and how much has to be given to the employee by the employer in lieu of giving them an allowance? Also she has forbid my friend from buying snacks for herself, as she's not allowed to leave the house on her own.

Also she has refused to give her a day off once per week. My friend is in debt to the agency so she hasn't reported it yet, although the employer did tell her that the agency has stated they agree with not giving her a day off if they pay extra, which i'm quite certain is a lie given that she has told my friend many other things that aren't true and that it obviously breaks HK labour laws.

The situation she's in is that the employer seems to think she's some 3rd world girl that doesn't understand any of the rules, and my friend made the mistake of trying to "play nice" at the start which the employer took as a sign that she could be strangely abusive and controlling.

She's only been there for a couple weeks, and isn't sure if she should wait 3 months before reporting or filing anything, since that is how long it'll take her to pay off the debt to the agency for all the paperwork etc from before she came.

Any advice?

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forkspoon 4 yrs ago
Just an update, but would appreciate any replies.

The employer tried to give her spoiled food and my friend called her agency after refusing to eat it. The agency recommended waiting until her debt is paid off until she files a grievance.

I have read on this forum that the employer would be responsible for her flight home, but she seems to believe that she herself would have to pay the cost to the agency as well as paying them a month's salary if she quits. I know these agencies are mostly scams collecting on both ends, so it doesn't surprise me if that's true.

She is a bit worried about this as the employer can play many games and make things more difficult for her once she does file a case.

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hkwatcher 4 yrs ago
There are many levels to this person's problems

If this person is a Filipino has a recording of the agency saying she needs to pay off her fees first, then she needs to go to the Phil Consulate and file a complaint for overcharging. It should be zero placement fee and only 10% of salary one time.
To quit she needs to give one months notice in writing. The she leaves after 30 days with no extra payment of salary from either side. Buy her own food now and at the final settlement give them the receipts for all food items purchased and do not sign final paperwork until they pay for the food. Take photos of spoiled food for evidence or record conversation that show maltreatment.
If they will not allow her to go out even on her off day, she can leave without notice as this breaks the terms of the contract. The reason they are so controlling is that they know it is wrong to treat her this way and are frightened to be caught out.
If they fight for her to resign with all evidence in their favor, she should tellt hem she wants to go to the agency and settle because she does not understand how this system works. DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING until she understands. This is important, because once she signs she resigns cannot change it.

To file a claim she must wait 7 days before approaching Labour Tribunal and then she writes it all out and they send the complaint to the employer with a date for a conciliation meeting.
During this period of time she cannot get another job and will need to pay for her own expenses to stay including an extension of visa for $190.
The system is rigged against a DH to make a case due to the excessive costs whilst waitng for the LD meeting. Also the Labour Dept cannot force the employer to settle with payment even if they say the DH has a good case. Employer must pay for the air ticket home and travel allowance. Any untaken annual leave earned and rest days that were worked.
Take the complaint to the country Consulate in addition to the LD so the next DH will not need to bear such hunger and controlling behavior.

Good luck

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Baap 4 yrs ago
I don't understand why employers maltreat helpers. It must be some small dick syndrome.

Anyway, one day off is the law. It doesn't matter what the agency says. Actually it's illegal to give money instead of a day off.

I think some of the things HKwatcher says is wrong, so I wouldn't follow his advise.

I know there is a helper's union. She can call them and ask for advise? Or maybe they can call the family and explain the law, and tell them what they can and cannot do. Perhaps if a lawyer calls them they get a bit scared and will respect the law more.

Of course the agency wants her to continue working there, so they can get the rest of their money. I don't know what happens if she resigns and just leaves the house. They are breaking the law by not giving her a free day. But will she have to leave HK paying her own flight? Maybe.

I don't know who would have to pay the agency's fees if she quits. There are laws about it. Seek legal advise, don't just ask here.

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forkspoon 4 yrs ago
Thanks for the replies guys, i just wanted to give you an update. She tried to stick it out, because when she talked to the employer, She said she would fire her if she complained about anything to the labour board, and so she continued cleaning not only her house but her mother's and her sisters.
My friend asked some of her other DH friends and some shared stories about the nonsense they've gone through, and it seems mistreatment is insanely common with the helpers.
The employer played carrot and stick a bit but finally my friend had enough with the nonsense, and is resigning over the mistreatment.

Ironically the stick that broke the camel's back is for an answer i have not been able to get. My friend has been forced to eat ramen and only ramen every day after complaining about the spoilt food, and her body is starting to ache really badly.

Also to the one comment above, the fees she owes are for "seminars" that the agency made her attend and pay for at her own cost, as well as medical tests and other such fees. As far as i can tell this is also illegal, but there's no enforcement and it's common practice within the philippines.

Just glad she's going home, even if there isn't any real justice in Hong Kong for abuse.

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hkwatcher 4 yrs ago
Thank you for the update.
May I suggest that even though this DH has decided to go home, she should consider to make a complaint against this employer at the Phils Consulate. The Consulate will not give another Helper to his employer until the complaint has been investigated and the employer wishing to hire must attend a meeting with Consular staff to explain their treatment.
It will not help your friend, but making the complaint may help the next person who would unwittingly go into this home and be mistreated.
Also these types of charges the agency has asked her to attend need to be explained and the Consulate will look into whether or not there have been excessive charges in her case and she may get some refund. There are new staff in the Phil. Consulate and they are tightening up things that had been allowed to slide before.
I know for a fact that an Agency must address complaints against them before they will be allowed to renew applications for making more placements.

There is a culture of fear that somehow makes one feel unable to standup for themselves. If one doesn't stand up for themselves, then who will?
By the way, I don't think any DH would take a case to the Labour Dept unless they had already quit the job or had been terminated. Taking a case means the relationship is broken.

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forkspoon 4 yrs ago
Wow Swafto, are you serious?

I'm working with her to report everything to the authorities. She definitely wants to go quietly, but I think i convinced her to email the labour board about what's gone on.

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unattendedbag 4 yrs ago
Unfortunately, these stories are all too common in Hong Kong. Shocking this exists in what is otherwise a first world city.

It's an us versus them mentality, with a complete lack of empathy from most locals.

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mars2012hk 4 yrs ago
"...and so she continued cleaning not only her house but her mother's and her sisters. "

Btw don't forget to mention that to the authorities, as it is illegal too.
One DH = one employer = one work address.

Advise her to gather evidence, though. Selfies at the mother's and sisters' places (front door + inside the flat) would certainly work.

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