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Time, space & the worker–employer relationship for HK domestic workers
Last week, Maren Boersma presented her research in an informal sharing session. In particular, she talked about her paper Time, space and the worker–employer relationship in the everyday lives of Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong, presented in October at the Migrants in the City conference in Sheffield, UK.



Every Sunday, Hong Kong’s public spaces are crowded with migrant domestic workers. For the majority of domestic workers, Sunday is their day off from work, and so it is a day for relaxation, spending time and socializing with their friends or calling their family back home. However, as migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong need to live in with their employer, for some, Sunday carries a ‘double meaning’: it is the day that they can ‘escape’ from the house and the demands of their employer. Employers have a profound impact or even control over the daily lives of their helpers, which is further complicated by the fact that space standards in Hong Kong are low and domestic workers often do not have access to (suitable) private space in the house where they reside. Drawing on ethnographic work and interviews on time in daily life of Filipina domestic workers, the paper discusses ‘stretching’ working hours, working, rest and leisure time and how these are constituted by employers and helpers and complicated by the fact that domestic workers both work and reside at their employer’s home.

(All photos by Maren Boersma)

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