Employers of domestic workers should familiarize themselves with eating habits to avoid cultural misunderstands over food, the Caritas Community Development Service has suggested in a new article.

Writing in Kung Kao Po, a weekly Catholic paper, the Hong Kong relief agency noted that domestic workers were entitled to either get free food or a food allowance. But even some who had worked in the city for a long period of time had reported cultural differences with employers over their eating preferences.

As an example, the agency said that some workers did not consume pork for religious reasons, or fasted during Ramadan. Employers complained that they were picky eaters or worried that the workers would not have enough energy to do chores and care for children.

The CCDCS said some employers often gave domestic workers bread for breakfast, without realizing that Filipinos loved rice and would happily consume it for three meals a day.

One Filipina domestic worker who has been in Hong Kong for 10 years said she did not get enough energy from eating bread and often felt faint during her work unless she could also have some rice.

According to the article, problems largely arise between employers and their workers due to inadequate communication and a lack of understanding on both sides. It suggested that employers talk to their workers more, try to understand their culture and give more support.

It noted that only domestic workers who had good physical and mental health would devote their energies to caring for a family.