Date
24 June 2017
A total of 10,228 visa applications were filed in November. The new rules on window cleaning don't apply to helpers hired before the end of the year.  Photos: HKEJ, baidu
A total of 10,228 visa applications were filed in November. The new rules on window cleaning don't apply to helpers hired before the end of the year. Photos: HKEJ, baidu

Scramble to hire maids before new rules on window cleaning

Employers are rushing to hire foreign domestic helpers before new rules on worker protection take effect next year.

The rules protect domestic helpers from improper requests such as cleaning of exterior windows in high-rise buildings, Apple Daily reports.

A total of 10,228 visa applications were filed in November, up about 10 percent from a year earlier, according to the Immigration Department.

The number for December has not been released.  

The surge in the number applications came after the Labor Department announced in November that all contracts signed after Jan. 1, 2017 must state that only windows with locked grilles can be cleaned by maids and that no part of the helper’s body will be outside the window except the arms.

The new rules don’t apply to contracts signed before the end of the year.

Lee Bing-kong, chief operating officer of the Support Group for Hong Kong Employers with Foreign Domestic Helper, said the scramble is something not seen before, adding that they used to take time to hire because the term of each contract is two years.

Cheung Kit-man, chairman of the Hong Kong Employment Agencies Association said an early renewal of contract can only be done within two months before the existing one expires.

Leo Tang, organizing secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions, said loopholes still exist due to lack of legislation.

Meanwhile, companies providing professional window cleaning services are benefiting from the new measures.

Golden Age Home Service Co. said its window cleaning business is up more than 10 percent in recent months from a year earlier.

It expects a 20-30 percent increase next year.

The company said window cleaning, especially for high-rise buildings, requires professional equipment and expertise which is why foreign maids resist doing it.

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