Minimum Allowable Wage and food allowance for foreign domestic helpers

25 August 2010

The Government announced today (August 25) that the Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW) for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong would remain at $3,580 per month.

Apart from this, the food allowance in lieu of free food for FDHs will be increased from not less than $740 per month to not less than $750 per month. The new level will apply to all contracts signed on or after tomorrow (August 26).

A government spokesman said, "The Government regularly reviews the MAW for FDHs and has decided to freeze the MAW level this year. The review takes account of Hong Kong's general economic and employment situation, as reflected through a basket of economic indicators including the relevant income movement, price change and labour market situation.

"The Government has also reviewed the food allowance in lieu of free food this year and decided to raise it to the new level after taking account of the movement in the relevant consumer price index."

Under the Standard Employment Contract for hiring FDHs, employers are required to provide FDHs with food free of charge, but may choose to pay a food allowance in lieu of free food to FDHs. In addition, irrespective of whether the employer would eventually choose to provide free food, the food allowance level must still be specified in the contract signed by the parties.

"The option to pay food allowance in lieu of free food rests with employers and serves to give them the flexibility to cater for special circumstances. The fact is the vast majority of employers at present provide food free of charge to FDHs," the spokesman said.

Contracts signed today or before with the existing food allowance of not less than $740 will still be processed by the Immigration Department (ImmD) provided that the applications can reach ImmD on or before September 22, 2010.

This arrangement should allow sufficient time for employers to send the signed contracts to ImmD for completion of the necessary application procedures.

Employers are free to pay their FDHs more than the MAW and minimum food allowance.