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Domestic helpers struggling under too much work

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The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Research Centre on Migration and Mobility (RCMM) recently conducted a survey to determine the health of domestic workers in Hong Kong. The findings illustrated that many helpers are confronted with being over-worked, as well as poor working conditions, which in turn negatively affects their health.

The RCMM interviewed 2,017 domestic workers in Hong Kong from the Philippines and Indonesia, asking questions regarding working, employment and living conditions. According to CUHK, results demonstrated that 43.9% cannot live in a private room, 70.6% work over 13 hours a day, 34.6% are obligated to work on their rest days. Not only are domestic workers over-worked, but many report discrimination, 3.9% have experience some form of domestic abuse and 8% earn less than the minimum wage.

The study was further extended to compare the overall health of domestic workers with local residents. Not surprisingly, the study concluded that domestic workers struggle from greater health problems, potentially due to their living and working conditions.

Furthermore, the survey has further demonstrated that domestic workers do not often use local services for assistance, such as those provided by the Labour Department and Immigration Department. Of those that have used such services, domestic workers reported that these services were unable to respond to their needs and supply the necessary support.

Even though there are social service organisations providing support to domestic workers, only 4% of those interviewed reported having consulted them, which indicates, according to the study, that the majority of domestic workers are not aware that various services are available to them.

These findings demonstrate severe challenges to the livelihoods of domestic workers, and indicates that measures must be put in place for their protection and support. For example, the study conducted by CUHK proposed that domestic workers could be given the option of counselling and healthcare services, training programs and shelters for those who have experienced abuse. Moreover, domestic workers must be made aware of social services existing in Hong Kong to provide them with aid and support.

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