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Make Filipino maids legal, congress deputy says

2015-01-27 08:48 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

Maids from the Philippines should be granted legal rights to work on China's mainland, a local lawmaker said yesterday.

"Most Filipino maids have received professional training in cleaning and cooking, are knowledgeable about first aid and can speak English to a decent level," Wu Jian told the ongoing session of Shanghai People's Congress.

Over the past decade, the average salary of an experienced ayi in Shanghai has risen sixfold to 10,000 yuan (US$1,600) a month, according to industry website yunjiazheng.com.

But the pay rise has not been matched with an improvement in the quality of service provided, Wu said.

"The introduction of professional foreign maids would help to remedy the current situation where salaries are high but standards are low," he said.

"As local families have become richer, and with the increase in the number of expats living in the city, demand for top quality housekeeping services has soared," he said.

But most local domestic helpers have had little more than a week of basic training, so they often fail to make the grade, he said.

Having a bigger pool of housekeepers would also help to resolve the persistent problem of labor shortages every time there is an annual holiday, the congress deputy said.

While Filipino maids can work legally in Hong Kong and Taiwan, they are not allowed to do so on China's mainland.

Despite the legal restrictions, demand for them is high and some agencies are prepared to break the law to smuggle the women in, Wu said.

"These underground organizations paste fake work visas into the maid's passports. It would be a lot easier to manage and regulate if we just let them come in legally," he said.

Under current legislation, Filipino maids are allowed to work only as trainers of Chinese domestic helpers.

Anyone who hires a foreigner without the necessary documentation can be fined up to 50,000 yuan, a human resources official told Shanghai Daily.

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