20 April 2019
Employers can search for domestic helpers by browsing their photos, family status and experience on the HelperLibrary app (inset). Photo: HKEJ
Employers can search for domestic helpers by browsing their photos, family status and experience on the HelperLibrary app (inset). Photo: HKEJ

New apps, websites challenge business of maid agencies

New websites and apps offering to match domestic helpers with potential employers are posing a stiff challenge to traditional maid employment agencies, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.

The newly launched smartphone app HelperLibrary is one example.

HelperLibrary was developed by two local mothers, Lo Ka-man and Ho Mei-bo, who had experienced great difficulty in hiring domestic helpers.

They decided to come up with a Chinese-language matching app that allows employers and helpers to post their job ads and résumés online. 

In just one month, 800 employers and helpers have signed up for the service.

Ho said HelperLibrary allows employers to search for helpers by browsing their photos, family status and experience, and it can also suggest candidates who fulfill their requirements.

Employers can also use it to conduct job interviews online via video.

Several new English-language websites include HelperChoice, founded by French mother Laurence Faunchon, which launched its domestic helper matching service last month.

The AsiaExpat website recently added a page dedicated to the hiring of domestic helpers.

Teresa Liu Tsui-lan, managing director of Technic Employment Service Centre Ltd., said the business of conventional maid hiring agencies is unavoidably affected by the new matching services.

“Half of our revenue now comes from the provision of visa applications and body check services,” Liu said, “as more and more employers come to us after they have found their candidate.”

Her firm charges between HK$7,000 (US$902) and HK$9,000 to help employers complete the hiring procedures after they have found their target via the websites or apps.

Liu said employers could save up to several thousand dollars that using an agency’s introduction and referral service would cost.

Nevertheless, Liu said, there are advantages if a helper is sourced and referred by the agency.

“We could follow up on the case if a helper is not performing or has other issues, and our staff in the helpers’ countries of origin could also ensure they are well-trained,” she said.

“When you look for a helper online, you can never be sure if the candidates are as good as they say on their résumés.”

At present, there are 330,000 domestic helpers working in Hong Kong, and there are about 1,500 maid employment agencies.

The Consumer Council received 234 complaints last year alleging that maid hiring agencies instigated helpers to deliberately underperform in their jobs so as to get their employers to fire them. 

The helper would then claim termination benefits, while the agency would earn fresh referral fees when the helper was hired by another employer.

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