By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Lawmaker Kwan Tsui Hang is urging the government to enact law or administrative regulation specifically for the employment of foreign domestic helpers as soon as possible.
She made the remark in her speech given in the beginning of the plenary meeting at the Legislative Assembly yesterday.
The lawmaker said recently a lot of residents told her about having labour conflicts with their non-local domestic helpers, which “were caused by the Labour Relations Law and the Imported Labour Law”.
The latest official statistics showed that there were 14,299 foreign domestic helpers at the end of 2009.
“Due to the special job nature of household services, most of the domestic workers live in their employers’ homes and their working hours therefore are hard to calculate precisely,” Kwan Tsui Hang said.
“Since it involves over-time pay, it is very easy to stimulate arguments and contradictions between employers and domestic helpers.”
She also said that other labour rights regulated in the Labour Relations Law such as maternity leave and statutory holidays are “difficult to implement in the reality”.
The lawmaker attributed the problem to the lack of a special law to regulate the labour relations with foreign domestic helpers in Macau.
“The application of the general principles in the Labour Relations Law is the main cause of the current controversy,” she said.
Hence, Kwan was calling on the government to introduce legislation or regulations specifically for the employment of non-local domestic workers in order to give clear rules for related labour relations problems.
Despite the Labour Affairs Bureau has recently held a number of public sessions to explain the Imported Labour Law, Kwan pointed out that what the director Shuen Ka Hung has said was “not clearly reflected” in the Labour Relations Law.
The lawmaker thus questioned the legal grounds of Shuen Ka Hung’s explanations and whether people should stick to the law or what he has said to the public.
According to the Statistics and Census Bureau, there were 4,537 and 4,717 newborn babies respectively in 2007 and 2008.
The lawmaker said it implied that the demand for child day care will become even more prominent in Macau that it cannot be solved within a short period of time.
Under this circumstance the recruitment of domestic workers will be one of the ways to tackle the problem, she said, adding “it’s exactly because of the help of domestic workers can women in Macau step out from homes and set foot in society to work”.
Between 2003 and 2009, the number of foreign domestic helpers soared from 2,650 to 14,299. As well, from 2000 until 2009 the number of employed women aged 20 to 44 jumped to 102,300 in Macau.