An employer in Hong Kong who complained on social media about her domestic worker’s request for a food allowance, saying she had provided free food already, drew a mixed response.

The employer asked the public what she should do as her Indonesian domestic worker asked her for HK$20 (US$2.5) a day to get the food she preferred in an Indonesian store, Sky Post reported.

The employer estimated that she needed an extra HK$600 a month to pay for the worker’s food. To save money, she claimed she bought lunchboxes at work and seldom went out for lunch.

Some internet commentators said the employer should ignore the worker’s request as she had provided her food at home.

Domestic workers in Hong Kong are entitled to either getting a food allowance or free food from their employers. The amount of the food allowance, along with their salary, is legally set at a minimum of not less than $1,075 per month.

Joan Tsui Hiu-tung, convenor of the Support Group for Hong Kong Employers, said it was unfair for the worker to ask for a food allowance if the employer already provided food at home. “If you work for a company which provides you with a free lunch, when you go out for lunch, you should pay yourself,” Tsui said.

She suspected that the worker used it as an excuse to meet friends as there were many Indonesians who gathered at the store. Tsui advised employers to encourage their workers to make their comfort food and let the families try it.

Lau Lai-sze, an employment agent, said employers should better communicate with their workers and decide on the best course of action when it came to meals.