Hong Kong is looking into importing domestic helpers from Myanmar to meet surging demand, Secretary for Labor and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said.
It is all part of the government’s efforts to increase the sources of maids and lower the city’s reliance on the Philippines and Indonesia, Law said in a blog post on Sunday, adding that the government has to curb labor exploitation.
There are more than 360,000 foreign domestic helpers in the SAR. But with the aging population, their number is expected to almost double to 600,000 in three decades, or about one-sixth of the labor force.
As the demand for domestic helpers from other developed cities in the region continues to remain high, Hong Kong could face a shortage.
According to Law, the first step to meet the ever-increasing demand is to look beyond the Philippines, which provides the majority of the domestic helpers.
“I have met with Cambodian officers and recruitment centers in my first two months after taking office [in July],” he said.
The first batch of domestic helpers from Cambodia is expected to arrive at the end of this year. Law has also started to begin talks with other countries on importing domestic helpers.
“The bureau is looking into the possibility of introducing Burmese workers into Hong Kong,” he said.
A report last year by the Justice Centre Hong Kong cited unscrupulous practices of some hiring agencies that plunge helpers into debt by overcharging them.
Law promised to crack down on recruitment agencies that violate the law.
“The SAR highly values the protection of migrant workers’ rights so they can work here without any worries,” he wrote.
“Employers should also treat the helpers as part of their family,” he added.
Hong Kong is currently facing a shortage of maids from the Philippines as Manila has suspended the processing of new overseas employment certificate applications due to concerns over illegal recruitment practices.
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