Discrimination: How has the global coronavirus pandemic affected migrant domestic workers?

Laxmi PUN

Research output: ThesisHonours Projects (HP)


The migrant domestic workers community in Hong Kong is facing a lot of challenges in the global coronavirus pandemic. Following the positive testing of two domestic employees from the community, orders began to be issued that targeted and singled out the community. These migrant domestic workers are believed to be subjected to subtle discrimination, and the outbreak has brought this issue to light. This study aims to investigate the correlation between the coronavirus pandemic and discrimination amongst the migrant domestic workers. It also determines the examine the effectiveness of the government’s policy for migrant domestic workers in reducing the negative impacts associated with racial discrimination in the current situation. In this context, subtle discrimination is characterized as a set of often unconscious ideas and connections that influence ingroup members' attitudes and behavior towards outgroup individuals. Basic fear and anxiety responses in the mind, negative stigma associations, and selective behavioral patterns are all examples of people's immediate responses to outgroups.
To test the hypothesis that the migrant domestic workers are facing major discriminatory changes in their lives, a mixed methodology research was conducted. By cluster sampling, an online survey was distributed to the migrant domestic workers across Hong Kong. 174 respondents were selected from cluster groups in Facebook. The findings revealed a minor effect in the reverse of what had been predicted: the migrant domestic workers were benefiting economically by having increased wages since the pandemic. Instead, the survey findings have shown that most migrant domestic workers are still earning the basic minimum wage. Hence, from the respondents of the online survey, semi-structured interviews were conducted with two migrant domestic workers to grasp a better understanding of the phenomenon. The analysis showed that migrant workers felt dejected from the current pandemic, where they are facing continuous pressure from their employers and the government.
These results suggest that the migrant domestic workers feel subtle discrimination from their employers and the government as they were singled out multiple times in different situations. They expressed concerns about changes to their current working conditions, where their employers are treating them harshly. Moreover, they also expressed their dissatisfaction with the Hong Kong government’s policies, where they reported a lack of support for the community. While devising strategies for reducing the pandemic's particularly detrimental consequences on migrant domestic workers, the concept of subtle discrimination should be taken into consideration. Therefore, it is concluded that migrant domestics workers are facing subtle discrimination from their employers and the government along with adverse negative effects in the global coronavirus pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
  • HO, Ka Ki, Lawrence 何家騏, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Honours Project (HP)
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Liberal Studies Education (Four-year Full-time)
  • Programme code: A4B071
  • Course code: SSC4240


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