On many cases, foreign domestic workers who are entitled to take their day off might find it more accurate to call it half-day off. That’s because many of employers require them to put the house in order before they step out for the day. And also they have to return to base long before midnight.
Domestic helpers, at least in Hong Kong, are entitled one day off for every seven days at work. So ideally, if the designated day off is Sunday, that starts at turn of midnight Saturday and will not end until the turn of midnight on Sunday. Between those hours, helpers are supposed to be off from doing household work.
But oftentimes, helpers are held back and too kind to say no when employers make requests just before they leave on their holiday.
Whether that’s cleaning the kitchen, preparing breakfast or walking the dogs, domestic helpers spent a significant amount of their supposed day off, especially because many of them are notified of curfew hours, usually 8pm to 10pm.
After an eventful day off, helpers can get worn out from the activities: serving the church, going for BBQ at the beach, play sports, go hiking or play cards in their rented premises.
Worse, before their supposed day off has concluded, workload is already piling up back at home. Dishes waiting to be washed, messy living room and trash waiting for disposal. If that’s not enough, the employer asks the helper to put the children to shower or teach them for the following day’s lessons.
But domestic workers have little, if any signs of revolting, as they were hired to perform these jobs. So whether they’ll eventually wear out and assert their rights, or play the same role until she finds another employer after this contract is up, it remains to be seen.