Hong Kong government takes measures to address job-hopping among foreign domestic helpers

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Chris Sun

28th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) In a recent session of the Legislative Council today, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Chris Sun, responded to concerns regarding the shortage of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong and the persistent issue of job-hopping among FDHs. These concerns have raised questions about the progress made by the government in combatting this trend and ensuring the rights and interests of both employers and FDHs are protected.

Mr Sun acknowledged the government’s high level of concern regarding the abuse of premature employment contract termination, commonly known as “job-hopping,” among FDHs. He highlighted the rigorous efforts of the Labour Department (LD) in combating unscrupulous practices of employment agencies (EAs) and the strict scrutiny applied by the Immigration Department (ImmD) to employment visa applications from FDHs who frequently change employers.

According to Mr Sun, the ImmD rejected 502 employment visa applications from FDHs suspected of job-hopping in 2023, representing an 80% reduction compared to the 2,833 rejections during the pandemic in 2021. These statistics indicate a significant improvement in the situation of job-hopping among FDHs.

In response to the questions raised, Mr Sun outlined the government’s plans and actions:

  1. The LD has concluded a consultation exercise on preliminary proposals for revising the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies (CoP) and is finalizing the revised content. The revised CoP, which takes into account stakeholders’ suggestions and concerns, is expected to be promulgated in the second quarter of this year.
  2. The revised CoP will require EAs to provide a more detailed explanation to FDHs regarding the requirements for changing employers, and FDHs will be required to sign a written acknowledgment of this information.
  3. The revised CoP will also enhance protection for employers by specifying refund or alternative arrangements in the event of premature contract termination by FDHs. The sample service agreement will include a section that addresses such arrangements.
  4. The revised CoP will prohibit EAs from providing monetary incentives to FDHs or their families to induce premature contract termination. The LD will impose sanctions on EAs that contravene this requirement.
  5. The government has established a standing inter-departmental liaison mechanism with consulates of major FDH source countries in Hong Kong to address FDH issues and exchange information on unscrupulous EAs. The LD will report any improper acts to the relevant governments through this mechanism.
  6. The government has been monitoring labor market conditions in different FDH source countries and maintaining communication with relevant stakeholders to expand the sources of FDHs. While the Chief Executive’s 2023 Policy Address proposed relaxing the visa policy for Laotian talents, there are no specific plans to expand the source countries to Laos for FDHs at present.

Mr Sun emphasised that the government’s efforts aim to protect the rights and interests of both employers and FDHs, while considering the needs and circumstances of Hong Kong. The government will continue to assess and adjust its policies accordingly, ensuring effective immigration control and security considerations are maintained.