Despite a standing order that prohibits the hiring of domestic workers in China, recruitment of Filipina workers is reportedly rampant in mainland China.
According to Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, more than 100,000 Filipinos work in the mainland, with an undetermined number of them working as household service workers. Most of the helpers are drawn to large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai where they are paid significantly higher than in Hong Kong.
But the demand is high that even lower-tier cities are also raising their offer.
According to EJ Insight, domestic helpers in Chinese southwest province of Sichuan are paid CNY 6,000 (US$938) which is about 30 percent higher than Hong Kong’s average pay for household workers.
Chinese law prohibits the hiring of foreign maids for personal services. Foreign workers convicted of violating the employment ordinance face up to 15 days in jail and a five-year entry ban.
Employers are liable to a fine of up to CNY 100,000 while placement agencies could be fined up to CNY 5,000 for each illegal hiring.
But relaxed enforcement of the law has emboldened Filipino maids to find employment in the mainland. An undercover Apple Daily reporter went to Shenzhen, the city that borders Hong Kong, to check out the phenomenon and discovered that employment agencies openly advertise helper vacancies.
Filipinos, according to the reporter, exploit an immigration loophole by overstaying their visas and are allowed to renew their visa every three months by exiting to Hong Kong.
Such stiff penalties are too risky to take, but employers reportedly prefer Filipino domestic helpers partly because of their English language skills badly needed by their children. They also preferred because their Chinese counterparts easily come and go despite being offered five-day work week, holiday leave, holiday bonuses and a 13th-month wage.
That is why a running joke among friends of Jane Zhang, a Beijing real-estate agent and mother of a 9-year-old goes, “finding a good husband is easier than finding a good ayi.”