When Indonesian domestic workers sue: turning points and triggers in the journey from employment to the law

07 Nov 2013 (Thu)

Dr Carol Tan, Reader in Law, SOAS, University of London, Chair, Centre of Southeast Asian Studies

Although Hong Kong law provides migrant domestic workers with relatively good employment terms and conditions, contract violations by employers are common and relatively well known. It is also understood that migrant domestic workers face a number of constraints that make it unlikely that she will sue her employer. Despite the constraints, some domestic workers do become litigants in civil claims against their employers. Using interview data with Indonesian domestic workers, it is possible to explore the various triggers and conditions under which she comes to be a litigant and which in turn have policy implications for the better enforcement of domestic workers’ rights.

Short Bio:

Dr Carol Tan is Reader in Law at SOAS, University of London where she is also Chair of the Centre of Southeast Asian Studies and the former Chair of the Centre of East Asian Law. She teaches a course on migrant workers and the law in Southeast Asia and has authored papers on family law in Malaysia and Singapore. She is also a legal historian and has written extensively on the common law and its treatment of traditional Chinese law. Her book British Rule in China: Law and the Administration of Justice in Weihaiwei, 1898-1930 is published by Wildy, Simmonds and Hill. 

Drawing on her research involving extensive interviews, Dr Carol Tan spoke about why, despite the challenges involved, Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong sometimes sue their employers.

Please click here for the Youtube video of Dr Tan’s seminar.