Hong Kong employment agencies are looking further afield after Indonesia decided to stop sending its citizens abroad to work as domestic workers.
The ban will not affect Hong Kong for some time, according to the Labor Department, but Jakarta has tightened its domestic helper policy ahead of the new restrictions.
That has led to a decline in Indonesian helpers in Hong Kong, Sing Tao Daily reports, citing Liu Tsui-lan, managing director of Technic Employment Service Center.
Liu said local agencies have been recruiting applicants from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to ensure enough supply.
Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper is quoting Soes Hindharno, director of Indonesia’s placement and protection bureau, as saying the measure is aimed at preventing abuse and ensuring reasonable living conditions for its workers.
Indonesians account for nearly one-third of about 330,000 domestic helpers in Hong Kong, official data shows.
Officials said the ban will be phased in starting May next year and will be fully implemented in 2019.
However, the government is promising flexibility on a country-by-country basis.
The Indonesian consulate general confirmed the policy on Hong Kong has not changed.
But Technic’s Liu said Indonesian authorities have tightened approval procedures, leading to a fall in applicants.
She said the Indonesian economy might ultimately suffer if the trend continues.
Betty Yung Ma, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers’ Association, told Ming Pao Daily that Hong Kong should not be too dependent on foreign domestic helpers.
Instead, the government should introduce measures and improve existing facilities to make it easier to care for children and the elderly, she said.
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