The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government plans to cut the minimum salary of foreign domestic helpers by 400 HK dollars (US$51) and impose a levy of 400 HK dollars to their employers for vocational training.
Donald Tsang, chief secretary for administration, announced the government's plan when he delivered the Report of the Task Force on Population Policy at the Legislative Council on Wednesday.
He said the reduction of minimum salary of foreign domestic helpers complies with the significant downward adjustment in various local economic indicators.
The policy will apply to employment contracts signed on or after April 1 this year, he added.
Currently Hong Kong has almost 240,000 foreign workers, most of whom are employed as domestic helpers. The salary of foreign domestic helpers stand at 3,670 HK dollars (US$470) per month.
Since the enactment of the Employees Retraining Ordinance in 1992, employers importing workers other than foreign domestic helpers have been paying a levy.
It is a well-established principle that employers turning to imported workers, rather than local employees, should contribute to the training and retraining programs.
At present, only employers under the Supplementary Labor Scheme are required to pay a levy, Tsand said, adding that the government recommends that the same levy, currently 400 HK dollars a month, should also apply in the employment of foreign domestic helpers.
The levy will be imposed under the Employees Retraining Ordinance. This will take effect from October 1, 2003.
"Given all these considerations, we believe that employers of foreign domestic helpers, like employers of other imported workers, should contribute towards the training and retraining of the local workforce," Tsang said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2003)