Date
20 September 2017
The Hong Kong government is seeking to prevent malpractices by some domestic helpers and their intermediaries. Photo: HKEJ
The Hong Kong government is seeking to prevent malpractices by some domestic helpers and their intermediaries. Photo: HKEJ

Tighter scrutiny on intermediaries for foreign domestic helpers

Hong Kong will issue some guidelines that will ensure tighter oversight on intermediaries for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday, citing Lai Tung-kwok, the city’s Secretary for Security.

The move comes as some intermediaries were said to be helping domestic workers hop jobs by taking advantage of a loophole in the visa system.

Some FDHs, persuaded by intermediaries, are said to deliberately perform badly or display poor attitude to make their employers terminate the contracts prematurely, so that the maids can get new employers and obtain compensation of free passages and one month’s wages, James Tien, a legislative council member, has said in a written enquiry.

Security Secretary Lai said that as of Dec. 31, 2014, the Immigration Department had received around 155,000 employment visa applications from FDHs, of which 3,903 were suspected to be “job-hopping” cases, accounting for 2.5 percent of all applications.

After close scrutiny of the applications, the Immigration Department refused 268 of them, while 287 applications were withdrawn by the applicant.

Regarding a proposal to set up probation arrangement for FDHs, Lai said such move may be unfavorable for employers, as the helpers could change jobs during the probation while employers still need to pay visa fees and flights expenses.

Joseph Law Kwan-din, chairman of Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association, said the number of cases disclosed by the government is far less than the actual situation.

Meanwhile, the International Domestic Workers Network has urged the immigration department to investigate thoroughly the reasons for any resignations by the helpers, to prevent any unjust blame.

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