Hong Kong’s High Court has ruled that foreign domestic helpers can become Permanent Residents of Hong Kong, after staying here for 7 years. This, no doubt will be appealed to the Court of Final Appeal, and possibly even the National People’s Congress, thereby causing yet another constitutional crisis. However, I honestly can’t think of a better way for domestic helpers to shoot themselves in the foot.
The current pay for a domestic helper is HK$3740 per month, and the pay for someone earning the a minimum wage in Hong Kong would be much higher. Foreign domestic helpers are not entitled to a minimum wage. So lets say that one applies to become a permanent resident – they are immediately no longer employable as a foreign domestic helper and need to be paid minimum wage.
As an employer, would one pay them the significantly higher minimum wage, or would they just make such a person redundant and hire a fresh immigrant at the fixed foreign domestic helper contract rates? It’s a no brainer really, especially with the economy in free fall.
I think that domestic helpers will quickly understand that the economics of becoming permanent residents of Hong Kong simply don’t make sense, and excepting the handful who are qualified for other jobs, they would soon find themselves out of work with poor prospects.
Update: It has been pointed out to me (thanks, Taha) that live-in domestic workers are not covered by the minimum wage ordinance. This changes the situation quite significantly, in that there is no economic barrier to taking up PR.
However, I still think that the fearmongering that is being propagated here in Hong Kong is probably unwarranted. According to the current immigration system, there is no right for PRs to bring their family members to live in Hong Kong. I have been through the process three times, and I know from my own experience (and that of others) that in order to bring one’s dependents (including spouse), one needs to show sufficient income to support them, as well as having adequate housing in which the dependents can reside.
The vast majority of domestic helpers would be unable to satisfy those criteria.
Finally, for the avoidance of doubt, I will just mention that no foreign domestic helper will become a PR automatically. This is a status that must be obtained by making an application to do so, having satisfied the relevent criteria.