Meet the Family Helper of Discovery Bay

^Photo from http://www.arounddb.com.

Walking around Discovery Bay you will quickly notice the number of children being accompanied by a care-giver. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but the longer I’ve been here the more I’ve noticed these ladies are much more than just child care-givers and they are an extremely common and they core member of  many families in Discovery Bay.

I’ve seen ladies grocery shopping, walking dogs, taking out trash, and just about everything else you can image, which got me thinking — Who are the women?? Where do they come from? And how common are these ladies in Hong Kong?

A quick google search lead me into a world of fascinating information. First, these women are much more than care-givers and they are kindly referred to as “Helpers,” which I struggled to process a bit because when I hear “Helper” I cannot stop thinking the movie “The Help.”  From my research, it seems many in Discovery Bay share my struggle. I came across several articles and blog posts suggesting a new name be used — “domestic worker” or even just “employee.”

Here are a couple interesting facts:

  • Helpers can be full-time, live-in employees or they can be part-time.  
  • Full-time, live-in Helpers make a minimum wage of $562 USD per month, but many expats pay $637 USD or more, depending on the years of duty and the level of experience, plus a Christmas and/or Chinese New Year bonus.
  • Employers must also provide free food or a food allowance of not less than $103 USD per month.
  • Full-time Helpers must also be provided suitable accommodation, insurance and free medical care, as well as pay all hiring-related costs and airfares for the bi-annual home leave.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a set schedule for full-time Helpers.  They can work up to 10+ hours a day based on a families needs/schedule.

Though it is only my personal observation, yes, it does seems that majority of families in Discovery Bay have a “Helper.”  I would say it is more common to see kids at the park with a Helper rather than a parent and honestly, I would fully embrace having a Helper if we lived in Hong Kong.  From the day Nolan was born, we’ve always had a full-time Nanny and it is life changing.  Managing a family with 2 full-time working parents it tough — I firmly believe a family should do whatever it takes to keep sane.

Sources:

  • https://expatliving.hk/the-ultimate-guide-to-hiring-a-helper-in-hong-kong/
  • http://helpfordomesticworkers.org/en/home/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_domestic_helpers_in_Hong_Kong
  • http://www.arounddb.com/news/celebrating-helper-appreciation-month-discovery-bay/
  • http://www.arounddb.com/around-db-articles/family-matters/lets-celebrate-helper-appreciation-month-in-discovery-bay/
  • https://coconuts.co/hongkong/features/need-stop-using-terms-maid-helper-opinion-2/
  • http://www.arounddb.com/news/hk-government-urging-all-domestic-helpers-to-report-abuse/

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