Monday, April 27, 2015

Guide to Living and Working in Hong Kong

This guide sets out brief essential information for Filipinos residing and working in Hong Kong including general facts, employment, the life of OFWs in the city, and more. 

General Facts

Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. It has its own flag, legal system, parliamentary system, and currency - the Hong Kong dollar. Its official languages are Chinese (Cantonese, not Mandarin) and English. Hong Kong citizens have their also their own passports, the HKSAR passport.

Geographically, Hong Kong is nestled on the south coast of China, a little up north of the Philippines. That's just about 1 hour and 30 minute time-travel from Manila via air.


Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons such as spring, summer, autumn and winter. Typhoon season begins in May and ends in November.

Spring begins in March to May. During this season, temperature and humidity are rising and evenings can be cool. Average temperature ranges from 17°C to 26°C.

On the other hand, summer comes in June to August. Hong Kong becomes hot, humid and sunny, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. The temperature can exceed 31°C but high humidity levels can make it feel even hotter. During summer, temperature averages from 26°C to 31°C.

From September to November, it's autumn in Hong Kong. There are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Many people regard these as the city's best months of the year. Average temperature plays from 19°C to 28°C.

Winter arrives to Hong Kong from December to February, making the city cool, dry and cloudy, with occasional cold fronts. The temperature can drop below 10°C in urban areas. Average temperature is 12°C to 20°C.

Religion and Custom

Religious freedom is one of the fundamental rights enjoyed by Hong Kong residents. It is protected by the Basic Law and other relevant legislation. There is a large variety of religious groups in the Hong Kong SAR, including Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam,  Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism. 

Employment and Wages

Despite Hong Kong's small size of an area of 1,104 square kilometres and a population of about 7.15 million in mid-2012, it became the 9th largest trading entity in the world in 2012.

The Statutory Minimum Wage has been increased from $28 to $30 an hour since 1 May 2013. A foreign domestic helper's salary must be no less than the Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW) announced by the Government and prevailing at the date of signing the employment contract for employing the foreign domestic helper. The MAW is currently set at HK$4,010 per month or Php23,151.09.

Under the Standard Employment Contract, an employer must provide the helper with suitable accommodation and with reasonable privacy, free food (or food allowance in lieu, which is HK$920 per month at present) and free passage from the helper’s home country to Hong Kong and return to the home country on termination or expiry of the contract. The above levels of the MAW and food allowance are applicable to all contracts signed on or after 1 October 2013.

Likewise, the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance obliges an employer to pay compensation to an employee who suffers personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment or to eligible family members of an employee who is killed in an accident at work. All employers are required to have valid employees’ compensation insurance policies to cover their liabilities both under the ordinance and at common law.

Hong Kong - Philippine Relationship

Hong Kong and the Philippines have close economic ties, with more than 150,000 Filipino domestic helpers working in the city.

After the death of eight Hong Kong tourists during the Manila hostage crises back in 2010, the government of China and the residents of Hong Kong has been a little unfriendly towards Filipinos. Despite past diplomatic exchanges, the Chinese government ended the visa-free visits by the Philippine officials. Ordinary Filipino travelers, including OFWs, aren't affected though.

Filipinos in Hong Kong

There are approximately 140, 000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, majority of whom are household workers. There are also a notable number of OFWs in the construction industry working as architects and engineers while some are information technology professionals and some are in professional services like accounting, law, and finance.

OFWs usually gather at various spots in Central including the ground floor of the HSBC Hong Kong headquarters building every Sunday to socialize, eat self-prepared food, sing, and even sell various items.