Date
24 March 2017
In one case, the Immigration Department approved a visa for a domestic helper who had been sacked three times in 12 months. The visa renewal came despite negative comments from the employer. Photo: HKEJ
In one case, the Immigration Department approved a visa for a domestic helper who had been sacked three times in 12 months. The visa renewal came despite negative comments from the employer. Photo: HKEJ

Immigration Department blasted over domestic helper visa abuses

Immigration authorities are under fire after an increase in domestic helpers who have had their contracts prematurely terminated at least twice in one year.

The maids have been forcing their employers to fire them by intentionally doing lackluster work but still get a working visa after being dismissed multiple times, Apple Daily reports, citing the Audit Commission.

The commission conducted spot checks between January and September last year on more than 3,000 domestic helpers who had had at least two premature contract terminations over the past year.

It found that in 30 cases, the Immigration Department approved visas to eight domestic helpers who were given unsatisfactory ratings by their employers.

Their contracts were terminated more than twice in the 12 months prior to their visa applications, the commission said.

It said immigration officers made no attempts to follow up with the concerned employers.

The Immigration Department approved 490,000 domestic helper visas between 2011 and 2015, the audit report said.

Of that number, 340,000 were granted to domestic helpers who were still working as of December 2015. 

Immigration authorities conducted their own investigation into the matter.

However, the audit report said there are no records of any attempts to reach employers in four cases.

In two other cases, immigration officers simply gave up after their first call went unanswered, it said.

In one such case, a helper was terminated prematurely three times in 12 months.

One of the employers contacted by the Immigration Department gave negative comments about the helper’s performance but the latter still got a new visa.

The Immigration Department did not have “documented procedures” for handling suspect visa applications, the commission said.

Chan Kam-fa, a spokesperson for a domestic helper employer rights group, said the Immigration Department’s lax procedures only encourage bad behavior by domestic helpers.

Chan said she receives an average of two to three complaints from employers each month about helpers refusing to work or intentionally breaking things in order to get sacked.

Also, there have been complaints about child and elderly abuse by helpers, Chan said.

Most employers end up terminating the helpers’ contracts and making severance payment in order to bring matters to a quick end.

The helpers would then easily renew their visas and land new jobs, she said.

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EL/AC/RA

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