Wages Rise for Local Helpers Amid Shortage

The shortage of local part-time domestic helpers is eight times higher than usual leading to the Lunar New Year, and their hourly wages are up 5 percent on last year.

A spokeswoman for the Employees Retraining Board’s Smart Living Scheme which helps employers hire maids said there has been a shortage of 4,000 part-time helpers since a month before the Lunar New Year. This, together with inflation, has driven up the salary of helpers.

She said if employers hire a helper for a higher salary, then there will be more requirements expected of the helper.

The board has suggested that part-time helpers get between HK$100 and HK$120 an hour.

One helper, surnamed Hau, said she is now seeking HK$120 an hour ahead of the holiday. She said she has recently been paid HK$95 to HK$105 an hour, compared with HK$85 on ordinary days. Most of her work involves cleaning kitchens and windows.

She expects to make HK$12,000 for the month before the Lunar New Year, compared to her usual take of HK$5,000 to HK$6,000 in an ordinary month.

“The demand this  month is big,” the spokeswoman said. “But if employers pay such a high price, then the requirements will be very high too. It’s definitely hard-earned money for helpers.”

For a flat between 300 and 600 square feet, the spokeswoman suggested that owners hire two helpers so they may finish the job within four to five hours.

She said helpers have limited physical strength and may not be able to cope with eight to nine hours of continuous housework, so employing two helpers would be more efficient.

A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Domestic Workers General Union reminded employers and workers to be aware of safety procedures during cleaning and for bosses to purchase insurance for helpers. One-time insurance only costs HK$20.

“Do not stand on chairs to clean windows. If the windows are too high, people can use telescopic window cleaners,” she said.

There have been cases of people falling to their deaths while cleaning windows, including that of a 50-year-old male resident at Grand View Garden in Wong Tai Sin who died on December 20 last year.

(Source: TheStandard.com.hk)

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