THE Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said on Thursday that it is planning to hold bilateral talks with Hong Kong (HK) labor officials to deploy more caregivers to the city this year.

In a statement, the DMW said a delegation will hold exploratory talks in Hong Kong next month to discuss caregiver jobs and the city’s ongoing review of wages for migrant workers.

“This would provide additional job opportunities for our caregivers, under conditions that value their skills and are cognizant of their rights and welfare,” Migrant Workers Secretary Maria Susana V. Ople said.

She noted that Undersecretary for Policy and International Cooperation Patricia Yvonne Caunan will lead the DMW team to Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Executive Council on Dec. 13 passed a resolution that approved the direct hiring of foreign caregivers and fast-tracking the application process to two months from four months.

In October, the Hong Kong government set a new minimum wage for foreign domestic workers of 4,730 Hong Kong dollars, equivalent to about P35,475 a month.

There were 211,514 migrant Filipino workers in Hong Kong last year, mostly employed as domestics, according to data compiled by the Hong Kong Immigration Authority as of the first half of 2022.

Only about 6% of domestic workers worldwide have access to comprehensive protections including medical care and unemployment benefits, the International Labor Organization said last year.

About 80% of the 1.4 million domestic workers in the Philippines are not covered by social security benefits, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Statistics Authority said in a joint report in 2019. — John Victor D. Ordoñez