Domestic Helpers Should Not Work on Rest Days

Foreign domestic workers have been encouraged to remind employers that a mandatory 24-hour rest day shall be imposed for every period of seven days of work.

Vice Consul Alex Vallespin at Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong told Hong Kong News that the issue of continuous rest and rest days were among those discussed in a January meeting between the Philippine Consulate officials and representatives of Hong Kong Labour and Immigration Departments.

“No employer should require their workers to do housework before they are allowed to enjoy their rest day,” Vallespin quoted Hong Kong officials as saying.

The 24-hour period starts from the midnight of a helper’s rest day and will last until midnight of the following day.

Vallespin added that Labour Department agreed that rest period for Filipino domestic workers should be made flexible if their duties require taking special care of ailing members of the family at night.

“The Labour Department said daily rest of domestic helpers depends on their job responsibility. If the helper is taking care of a patient, then continuous rest is not applicable. Helpers who take care of patients at night should be given time to rest during daytime,” he said.

With regards to air passage provision included in the Standard Employment Contract for helpers, Vallespon noted that some employers have interpreted this to cover only the return ticket of the helper, excluding baggage allowance.

“The LD recognized the ambiguity and they will make the necessary clarification in its publicity handbook. In the meantime, they will try to convey the message to employers about the baggage allowance in the return flight of the domestic helpers,” he said.

The Vice Consul earlier said that they have also sought the inclusion of food allowance to the minimum allowable wage, citing suitability and sufficiency of food employers provide to their helpers.

“We told them that Filipinos love to eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we heard so many stories that the food the employers provide to their domestic workers were leftovers of their wards,” Vallespin said.

During the International Migrants Day last year, a group of migant workers turned over a petition to the office of Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung asking for standardized working hours, notably “11 hours of uninterrupted rest.”

The petition, said Eman Villanueva, chair of Bayan Hong Kong and Macau, was signed by migrant workers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Nepal.

“We are asking the government to give us 11 hours of uninterrupted rest,” Villanueva said in an interview.

“So instead of defining our working hours, we are asking that the government should just ensure that we have several hours of uninterrupted rest. This is more workable because we live with our employers,” he added.

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