Currently if your fired from work or your contract finishes in Hong Kong you are required to leave the country within 2 weeks.
Things may be about to change as the High Court in Hong Kong has ruled that a domestic helper from the Philippines can apply for permanent residency in Hong Kong.Evangeline Banao Vallejos has been in Hong Kong since 1986 and this court ruling could open the flood gates of over 100,000 domestic maids wanting rights of residency in Hong Kong.
The ruling has opened up debates on equal rights of domestic helpers in Hong Kong and Mark Daly the lawyer acting on behalf of Ms Vallejos said “that she was very pleased by the ruling, which meant that all domestic helpers now were able to apply for permanent residency”.
"When we told her she said ‘thank God’," he said, adding that it was a normal working day for her.
"It’s a good day for the rule of law," he added.
Its still early days as the Hong Kong government still has 28 days to appeal against the ruling. When asked a spokesperson from the Hong Kong government stated that they were analysing the judgement and will give a formal response later in the day.
Critics against residency for domestic helpers believe that there would be a huge strain on healthcare, education as well as public housing if the case was won.
What makes this case a little strange is the fact that other non Chinese nationals can obtain residency in Hong Kong after working 7 years in the country while domestic helpers are banned from seeking permanent residency. This right for domestic helpers if changed will allow voting and the ability to stand in elections as well as being able to stay in Hong Kong indefinitely.
The main issue for critics though is not the domestic helpers themselves but the fact they would then be able to bring their families to Hong Kong putting a strain on the social system. Although this may be true in some context it appears that surveys carried out amongst migrant workers is more to do with wage and working conditions than bringing family to Hong Kong. There are more than 300,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines at least 120,000 of them have been in Hong Kong for over 7 years. Another issue is also that they are not allowed to accept other jobs and forced to remain with their employers, this can be a difficult situation to be in not only from the point of view of abuse but if dismissed the worker has only a two week time period to find new employment or be forced to leave the country.
What brings people to Hong Kong to work is the minimum wage for domestic workers of $480 (£308) much higher than they will earn in their home countries. Here in the Philippines domestic helpers salaries are generally less than £50 a month.