Latest statistics on foreign domestic helpers, employment agencies and quarantine facilities for FDHs

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19th January 2022 – (Hong Kong) The Immigration Department (ImmD) has approved over 200,000 and 340,000 cases of other applications respectively in 2020 and 2021 (including Foreign Domestic Helpers’ (FDH) applications for change of employer/contract renewal with the same employer after completion of the existing contract, and from employers for extending the validity period of existing contracts with FDHs as well as from FDHs for further deferral of return to their place of origin under special arrangements, etc.) to facilitate families in need to continue to receive support from FDHs as far as possible.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ImmD has specifically maintained the entry figures of FDHs since July 2020. In the past two years, the number of inbound FDH trips at various immigration control points is tabulated as follows:

Year2020 (July – December)2021
Number of inbound FDH trips 19,32822,394

 The Government does not maintain the average waiting time for FDHs to come to work in Hong Kong. As regards the submission of applications for entry visa for FDH employment in Hong Kong, it normally takes about four to six weeks for the ImmD to complete the processing of an application upon receipt of all necessary documents. During the pandemic, the ImmD has implemented a series of measures to expedite the processing of FDH employment visas including streamlining of workflow, flexible manpower deployment and enhanced application of electronic services, etc. In general, the processing of a case can be completed as fast as two weeks upon receipt of all necessary documents by the ImmD. Besides, the ImmD has set up a dedicated “Online Services for Foreign Domestic Helpers” website and has in December 2021 further launched electronic services for visa application and an “e-Visa” arrangement. There is no need for FDHs and their employers to attend an office of the ImmD in person to go through the formalities, which is both convenient and time-saving.

Also, according to Part XII of the Employment Ordinance (EO), all employment agencies (EAs) operating in Hong Kong, including EAs providing employment services for foreign domestic helpers (FDH-EAs), must have obtained a licence issued by the Labour Department (LD) before operation and are subject to regulation. It is an offence to operate an EA without a valid licence and is liable on conviction to a maximum penalty of a fine of HK$350,000 and imprisonment for three years. As at end-2021, there were 3,309 EAs with valid licence, among which around 46 per cent (1,527) were FDH-EAs. The Government does not require FDHs to find jobs or employers to hire FDHs through EAs. In 2020 and 2021, the LD received 290 and 396 complaints involving FDH-EAs respectively, of which 208 and 334 involved non-compliance with the Code of Practice for EAs (CoP), service quality of EAs and EAs suspected of inducing FDHs to “job-hop”. For the rest of the 82 and 62 complaints, they involved contravention of Part XII of the EO and the EAR.

The LD has all along taken rigorous enforcement actions in combatting irregularities of EAs. Apart from conducting regular and surprise inspections of EAs to ensure their compliance with the requirements and provisions of the EO and the CoP, upon receipt of complaints concerning EAs, the LD will instigate investigation promptly. The LD will initiate prosecution where there is sufficient evidence to substantiate an offence. If an EA is found to have breached the CoP, the Commissioner for Labour may revoke or refuse to issue or renew its licence, or issue warnings for rectification of the irregularities detected.

 In 2020 and 2021, the LD successfully prosecuted 10 and four FDH-EAs respectively. 

Meanwhile, the local epidemic situation has worsened rapidly. In response, the Government must vigilantly uphold the policy of guarding against importation of cases. The admission of FDHs to Hong Kong should be implemented in a risk-controlled as well as gradual and orderly manner. The number of Designated Quarantine Facilities (DQFs) and the room quotas should only be prudently adjusted under this principle to alleviate the serious shortage of FDHs in Hong Kong.

 There are, at present, three DQFs, namely Rambler Garden Hotel in Tsing Yi, Courtyard by Marriott Hong Kong Sha Tin and Regala Skycity Hotel, providing a total of 2,138 rooms for quarantine of FDHs. Starting from 1st February, 2022, Rambler will provide an additional 150 rooms, such that there will be up to 2,288 rooms among all DQFs to meet the demand. Employers of FDHs and Employment Agencies (EAs) can reserve a room through the online booking system of the respective hotels.

  The Government is aware that there are suggestions on the booking arrangement of DQFs from different sectors of the community, for instance, prioritising quota for room reservation at the DQFs by order of the issue date of the visa. The administrative arrangement involved therein (including arranging submission of documents as proof such as work visa and vaccination record, etc. as well as the registration from families employing FDHs, compiling of the waiting list, making announcement on the order of priority, accepting new registrations regularly and updating the waiting lists, etc.) is complicated. It may cause delay and affect more FDHs waiting to come to work in Hong Kong.

  The Government understands the need of local families for FDHs and will consider whether more DQFs can be provided having regard to the global and local epidemic situation.

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