Domestic workers

Hiring conditions for domestic workers remain too difficult despite entry pilot program – Lawmakers

Lawmakers today (Wednesday) called on authorities to further ease the requirements of a recently launched pilot entry program for Filipino domestic workers, warning that the process of hiring domestic help remains too costly and complicated for local residents.

Beginning April 25, local employers may apply to hire vaccinated non-resident Filipino domestic workers if their employment purpose would involve caring for persons aged 65 or older, children aged 3 or younger, or of sick patients.

Employers will need to apply to the Public Security Police Service (CPSP) and the Health Bureau for permission to hire a Filipino domestic worker.

The plan also requires that those targeted for care and cohabitants over the age of 3 have received two doses of the vaccine and that domestic workers have also taken at least two doses and be subject to quarantine.

The worker will have to stay in a quarantined hotel for 14 days or in a residence that has a single room, in addition to being subject to regular tests, at the expense paid by the employers or the worker.

While hailing the policy as a way to address the shortage of available domestic workers in the city due to pandemic entry restrictions in effect since 2020, lawmakers Wu Chou Kit and Lam U Tou warned during a session of the ‘Legislature today that residents still think the requirements are still making it too difficult to hire an assistant.

“According to some opinions in society, the requirements are too demanding, for example, during the epidemic, classes for children over 3 years old were frequently suspended, and some parents’ work schedules became unstable, it must therefore support domestic workers, but these situations have not been included in the scope of the pilot plan,” noted lawmaker Wu Chou Kit.

The lawmaker also warned that the number of hotel rooms for medical quarantine remains insufficient, with the costs of quarantining and transporting domestic workers, employment agencies and possible medical care reaching “tens of thousands of patacas”.

“These are enormous burdens, despite the easing of restrictions on the entry of non-residents, and more so, as it is only possible to check whether the quality of the worker is below expectations after the quarantine, the needs of families may not be met over time,” she noted.

Lawmaker Ron Lam U Tou also noted that hotel reservations for medical observation are normally “always sold out”, so even if domestic workers can meet the requirements, employers do not know when they will be available.

“Even if they overcome all the difficulties and enter, the costs of transport and isolation will be in the order of tens of thousands of patacas and, if they are infected, the treatment is paid for by the employer,” said he warned.

The legislator also considered that if domestic workers do not officially come from the Philippines and only have a short-term contract, employers will have to face the risk that they cannot legally leave Macau or change jobs after their arrival.

Pandemic restrictions, along with labor law changes requiring non-resident workers to change jobs to leave the city before starting their new job, have resulted in a shortage of available human resources in the SAR.

Previously, non-residents were only allowed to enter the city with a valid labor contract authorization via mainland China or Hong Kong, with many non-resident workers applying for mainland visas to comply with the new labor regulations and leave and hire Macao to change employers.

Lam urged authorities to negotiate with the Macau SAR Foreign Ministry, to expressly allow domestic workers not residing in Macau to apply for a “one-day COVID-19 visa” only after renewing their visas. contracts for the same type of work as a way to prevent them from “changing jobs after arrival or acting deliberately to get fired”.

According to data published by DSAL, at the end of February 2022, the number of non-resident work permit holders – called blue cards – reached 168,442, a number which decreased by 28,096 compared to the period before the outbreak of the pandemic. .

During the same period, the number of non-resident domestic workers in the city fell by 17% to 25,632, nearly two-thirds of whom were from the Philippines.