Legalizing foreign household staff can improve quality of labor for Chinese families

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/2 22:03:39

Although it's not legal for households on the Chinese mainland to hire foreign nationals for domestic household service work, Filipino maids are known by many Chinese people for their professionalism. So a media report that five Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province will open their doors to Filipino household workers has sparked heated public discussion in China.

The Philippine Star newspaper reported on Monday that officials from the Chinese Embassy in Manila had discussed with the Philippines' Department of Labor and Employment the possibility of legalizing the hiring of Filipino household workers on the mainland, according to Philippine Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say.

A Chinese delegation will visit the country in September for further negotiations, according to Say.

Chinese media reported that neither the Chinese Embassy nor other authorities would confirm the story, but many potential employers are still looking forward to hiring Filipino staff. The high expectations for Filipino household workers points to the great demand in the domestic household service market created by China's rapid urbanization and aging population.

It has become increasingly clear that the quality of China's domestic household service market can no longer meet the expectations of the nation's rising middle class. Local household helpers, mostly poorly educated migrant workers, often frustrate their employers with unprofessional behavior or lack of training.

In contrast, Filipino household workers have a good reputation for their higher education, thorough training and good English, which allows them to assist their employers' children in studying the language.

Illegal employment of Filipino household workers is not uncommon in China's first-tier cities. About 200,000 Filipino domestic helpers were working illegally on the mainland in 2016, according to a report from the South China Morning Post on Tuesday.

Legalizing their status makes sense. It will give Chinese families legal access to high-quality household services and increase competition in the domestic market, prompting local workers to improve their service quality through better training.

The media reports also mentioned that Filipino household workers are expected to receive a monthly salary of about 13,000 yuan ($1,934) in China. Such high wages may help improve the pay level and treatment for local workers if they are able to provide high-quality service too.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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