There are currently 3,000 unemployed non-resident workers in the SAR – CE

There are currently 3,000 unemployed non-resident workers remaining in the city, of which 1,100 are domestic workers, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng revealed today (Tuesday).

“We have entered into contact with embassies and diplomatic to arrange charter flights that could help them return to their respective countries,” Ho stated today at the Legislative Assembly (AL) while responding to an enquiry by legislator Agnes Lam.

Lam had asked the CE if authorities would ease current labour restrictions that could allow for unemployed workers, especially domestic workers, could be re-hired again without having to leave the city.

Under a new labour law enforced in November, 2020, non-residents seeking employment in Macau need to secure a work permit before entering the SAR, posing a challenge for migrant workers who have had their permits expire or contracts terminated during the pandemic and find themselves now unable to be employed.

The number of local non-residents has dropped by 8.4 per cent year-on-year to some 175,196 workers by the February of this year as the pandemic progressed, with the shortage in foreign labour especially noted by local families looking for domestic helpers.

When faced with this issue local authorities have repeatedly suggested for residents to hire domestic workers from Mainland China, with legislators also repeatedly countering that mainland helpers require much higher wages and asking for the labour law provisions to be suspended so as to allow for unemployed workers already in the SAR to be rehired.

“If everybody is in agreement that we should suspend or change the labour law maybe we could consider it but this could lead to other problems. We approved this law because we realised that many domestic foreign workers would not fulfil the required period between jobs and would just jump from family to family immediately,” Ho stated.

“This law was approved by the AL last year and if we revoke it now just because of this 1,100 domestic workers maybe it could cause many problems to families in Macau. We have to find a balance and not just consider one factor but we know that a family needing one and not finding a domestic helper is a difficult issue”