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I'm Keeping My Baby: Migrant Domestic Worker Rights at The Intersection of Labour and Immigration Laws

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 February 2022

Wayne Palmer*
Bielefeld University, Germany
Carol S. Tan
SOAS University of London, United Kingdom
*Corresponding author. Email:


Employment relations systems generally fail to enforce all legal rights of migrant workers. This article illustrates a broader approach to the way labour migration is regulated in practice, using the example of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong. Political economists have shown that the reality of low-wage migration is either ‘more rights, less access’ or ‘fewer rights, greater access’ in terms of rights enforcement systems. Attention to the effectiveness of such mechanisms and processes reveals another feature of regulation: the divergence of theory from practice. Much scholarly attention has been paid to rights, and this analysis, in which enforcement of those rights is sought, contributes to the literature with a frequently-occurring example of how such regulatory practices effectively restrict migrant rights. The article concludes by arguing that regulation uses employers as a further ‘mechanism of control’ to determine the actual quantity and quality of migrant workers’ employment rights regardless of what is stipulated in the law.

Original Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Institute for East Asian Studies, Sogang University

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