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Bad experience in Hong Kong
Before my two years contract end with my first employer, I decided not to renew my contract with them and instead, I go to several agencies in Hong Kong to find a new employer. My reason why I don't want to renew my contract was: I really don't have rest daily and my house chores is more loaded than the first year that I am with them. If it is summer, my lady boss ask me to wash her car at 12:00 o'clock noon time even if it is 33 degrees and the sun shine directly on me. And if it is Winter time, she ask me to wash her car at around 6:00 A.M even if it is 3 degrees Celsius outside. She don't care if I get sick or what ever happened to her helper. And one time, I experienced my first Winter in my life and by December of 2010 it is so cold already and I got sick. I am coughing and I have fever. They ask me to go and see the doctor so I have medicine. But still I am working and at night time when I already want to sleep they ask me to sleep in the living room and they give me the folding bed to use. If it is cold inside of the close room at winter time, how much more outside? But I cannot do anything. So now that I finish my contract I don't want to stay with them anymore.
One of my friend, recommend to me the sister of her employer. They want to hire a helper for the first time because she is planning to start working again since her son is 3 years old already and need to go to school so she can find work for her own. That is why she need to hire a helper so there is someone who will take care the boy when he come back from school and the parents are away. My friend also tell me that the family that she is working is a good family, so she is recommending me to the sister of her boss. I grab the chance and accept that employer. We signed the contract April 2012 just after my first contract end. So when I go back in Philippines April 12, 2012 for my vacation I already have new employer. My new working visa come out on the 3rd week of June that same year. and June 30, I fly back to Hong Kong to start working under my new employer.
But soon after a week since I start working, my lady boss have this bad habit that slowly show up everyday. She is not satisfied of all the things that I done in the house, from cleaning to cooking and also she is always complaining that I don't know how to take care her kid. I talk to her and I explain that it takes time before the boy will become close to me because I am a total stranger. And I also talk to both of them (Ma'am and Sir) that they need to help me in my first 2 months so I will become a familiar face to their son and soon after that, the boy and me will start to have bonding and become close because he know I am already part of their family. But as soon when the husband go to work in the morning, Ma'am will pushed the boy to me. She don't want to feed her son. I need to do that. But the little boy still don't know me so he don't want me to feed him and he is asking his Mum. And that is the reason that the Mum will start to get angry.
The cleaning problem start after one week of my stay. After I turned the house upside down to clean every corner. Now she is not satisfied anymore. She need to find reason to complain and nag. She say that I did not clean the floor properly. But I am thinking, how come that I did not clean it properly that aside from using vacuum cleaner everyday, I still mop the floor. And I mop the floor 2 times a day. Morning and evening. So I need to think a solution for that problem. Everyday instead of using the floor mop after the vacuum, I use towel to clean the floor using my bare hands. And instead of cleaning the floor 2 times a day, I make it 3 times if that is the solution that she will stop nagging on me. And it is effective. She cannot find any reason to scold because of the way I clean the house, so she need to find another reason just to get angry and can start to nag again. And she find another reason through the food, on how I cooked. She teach me the way how she cook their food since she is the one who is cooking when I am still not there. When we are eating dinner, the little boy and Sir praising the food saying it is yummy. The next day, she talk to me and she told me that Sir is complaining about the food last night. She told me ''Your Sir say the food last night have no taste. He want that food to be a little salty''. So I need to remember that for the next time I will cook that particular food I need to add a bit more salt. I have notes in the kitchen for myself reminder written in 'Tagalog'.
After only two days, I cooked again the same food. Since I remember that Sir and the small boy keep saying that it is 'yummy' then the Mum approached me and told me that next time I need to add salt cause Sir want it a bit salty. What I do is I just add a very little salt than the usual. Here comes dinner time, and Sir complain that the food is salty. He then ask me to prepare the wok pan and he is the one who go in the kitchen and cooked it again and he add sugar. He also told me that he don't want salty food. So, that is my chance to tell and ask him a question. I say 'Sir, Mum told me the other day that you complain this same food because you want it to be salty. I just add only a very small amount of salt today since I remember that you and your kids keep on saying it is yummy'. Sir say, 'I don't want salty food'. So again I ask him, who is telling the truth and who will be the one I need to follow?
Everyday I feel like I am living in hell in that house. Once the Mum is wake up, I know already that she will start nagging. Not only to me, because I am the last one who will receive all in the end. She is nagging her husband, she is always scolding her son. I feel that she will not survive the day if she will not scold us. So one day, when Sir and I go down in the parking lot I talk to him. That maybe I cannot finish my contract with them if his wife did not stop her habit of scolding and sometimes she is ranting in the house. Sir answer to me that if he talk to his wife and she will change a bit... if I would stay? I say, let us wait for the result Sir. He told me that Mums habit is really like that ever since he marry her but he tolerate her because she is his wife. I answer him that I cannot tolerate Mum because she is not my wife. And I am talking to him that moment because he is my boss since he is the one who signed in our contract.
I notice the next day that Mum is so silent and she treat me nice and even her son. But after one week she start again her old habit. So I tell them again that I can work the whole day without rest. I can live in their house even if I don't have enough food. But I cannot stay if I don't have peace of mind. That everything I do she need to complain and get mad at me.
Another thing that I don't like is, once a week we go in her mothers house and she is asking me to clean the whole house. I know that this is illegal and I don't want that one day the police will caught me. Here in Hong Kong it is under the law that you only need to work in your employer's house. Even if your employer is the one who ask you to work in other house, like what happened to me. That is still illegal! You have to learn and know your rights before you go and work as a domestic helper in any country. You can read it, and YOU MUST READ IT in your employment contract on page 1, number 4 (A) and (B). The best thing to do is 'don't just sign your contract'. After you have it in your hand, read and understand what is in your contract because the Hong Kong government is really following and implementing the rules. Do not commit the mistake of saying that you do not know that it is illegal to work outside of the approved place of work (address written in the contract). Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. I know my rights but she insist what she want.
So after 2 months of my stay, I give my one month notice (break contract letter) to Sir. Because I can no longer stay. I cannot follow what she ask me to do because I know it is illegal and she don't want to listen. If it is only about my work in their house, I can work because that is why I am in Hong Kong to work and I know what kind of work I have. But what she is doing to me is unacceptable. And once I refuse she is getting mad and I don't want to wait for the time that she will do harm to me like what other employer is doing to their helper.
I know, there is still a lot of good employer in Hong Kong. The only thing I need is to find a good agency who cares about us even if we are only a domestic helper. In Hong Kong, it is hard for a domestic helper to find new employer if you are terminated or a broke your contract. You need to pay a big amount of money to the agency if you have broke your contract. But if you did finish your contract, you will pay only 10% of your one month salary to the agency. So I always advice to all the Filipino that I meet there, that if they can have more patience they need to do so that they can finish there 2 years contract. But I never expected that it will happen to me.
The next thing I do, after I terminate my contract I search for agencies who really care even a bit for the applicants. After three days of search, I found the JL Employment Center. It is located in Shop C. 70.B 2/F Kwai Chung Plaza, 7-11 Kwai Foo Road, Kwai Chung New Territories HK. The lady boss Ms. Lucia Chung and her staff is very kind and helpful. Even if she is a Chinese but she show a real concern about the helper. She is the first agent I know that she always ask the helper if how is the treatment of the employer to them. She find employer for me. A Christian Chinese couple with a 5 years old daughter and the Mum is 6 months pregnant to their second child. And this time... I am so lucky to find a really good Chinese family!