Philippine labor authorities said they will suspend the processing and issuance of overseas employment certificates (OECs) for new hires in order to investigate reports of illegal recruitment.
Cheung Kit-man, chairperson of the Hong Kong Employment Agencies Association Ltd., estimates that about 2,000 domestic helpers bound for Hong Kong are affected, Apple Daily reports.
Jalilo Dela Torre, labor attaché at the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong, said that domestic helpers who had received their OEC before Saturday would not be affected.
He said the ban came as a result of attempts by four agencies to use Hong Kong as a transit point for domestic helpers wanting to work illegally in places like Russia, Turkey and Mongolia.
The agencies require domestic helpers to pay from HK$28,000 to HK$43,000 for visas to these countries.
Without a working visa, domestic helpers work illegally and are often at the mercy of employers.
Dela Torre said they received complaints two weeks ago. The four agencies are being investigated by Philippine and Hong Kong authorities.
OECs are given to domestic helpers to allow them to work in Hong Kong and not other countries. If the investigation shows that the agencies are involved in the illegal activities, the authorities would revoke their operating licenses and publish their names.
Dela Torre said the ban is not targeted at Hong Kong specifically but more than 75,000 Filipinos in the world are affected.
According to sources, among the four agencies under investigation, only two have licenses.
The Association of Hong Kong Manpower Agencies said about 300 agencies in Hong Kong are licensed while all others are operating illegally.
Meanwhile, Liu Tsui-lan, chairperson of the Association of Hong Kong Manpower Agencies, allayed fears that Hong Kong employers will switch to Indonesian helpers amid the Philippine ban.
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