An employment agency for domestic helpers was slapped with a fine of HK$9,000 after it charged an Indonesian maid with a commission fee that was almost 32 times the allowable amount.
Gold Union Employment Agency was found to have levied a commission fee of HK$12,889 on an applicant, Sundari from Indonesia, although the allowable amount was only HK$411, Sing Tao Daily reports.
Wong Man-chau, 57, owner of the hiring agency, pleaded guilty to a charge of collecting a commission income other than the contracted amount at the Eastern Magistracy on Thursday.
A labor rights organization assisting the victim said the penalty was relatively lenient and would not constitute a deterrent to employment agencies that are exploiting their domestic helpers.
The magistrate said the nature of the case is serious as the amount being charged by the agency was equivalent to three months’ worth of the pay received by Sundari, who is not earning much in the first place.
Sundari was made to draw a loan of HK$15,000 from a financial services company and asked to sign an authorization letter to transfer the money to Gold Union.
Sundari never received a cent of the loan but was made to make monthly repayments of HK$3,000 for five months.
Under existing laws, employment agencies can only levy 10 percent of a domestic helper’s minimum monthly salary of HK$4,110.
The magistrate reduced the original fine of HK$10,000 to HK$9,000, considering that Wong has returned HK$2,589 to Sundari in court.
The labor rights organization said it is pursuing the cases of at least 12 domestic helpers who have been ripped off by employment agencies.
It has filed complaints to the Labour Department on five of the cases, with HK$15,000 to HK$42,000 involved in each case.
The organization hoped that more domestic helpers would come out and file charges against these unscrupulous employment agencies.
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