Motion discussed during Legislative Council meeting to prevent unscrupulous agents from exploiting foreign domestic helpers


20th January 2022 – (Hong Kong) Under the COVID-19 epidemic, the number of foreign domestic helpers coming to Hong Kong has decreased, which has led to a surge in demand for foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Some unscrupulous intermediaries have encouraged existing foreign domestic helpers to switch jobs to earn higher salaries.

During the The Legislative Council meeting today, the motion of “regulating foreign domestic helper agencies and protecting employment rights” was discussed. Many lawmakers denounced unscrupulous agents for making huge profits, encouraging foreign domestic helpers to switch jobs, charging various fees unreasonably. They also criticised the government’s lacklustre supervision and crackdown. Some lawmakers even criticised the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr.Law Chi-kwong, for not understanding the public’s anxiety about the demand for foreign domestic helpers. Legislative Councillor Judy Chan Ka-pui who proposed the motion said that because the government did not uniformly regulate foreign domestic helper intermediaries, some intermediaries took advantage and used various marketing tactics to attract employers. She pointed out that the government’s prosecution of unscrupulous foreign domestic helper agents was low, and she questioned the bureau’s failure to thoroughly investigate the cases.

Another Legislative Councillor Frankie Ngan Man-yu, pointed out that many employers only found out that the foreign domestic helpers had hidden illness or even pregnancy after they came to Hong Kong. Under the epidemic, employers complained that it would be difficult for the foreign domestic helper to return to their hometown even if the contract was renewed, because the standard employment contract stipulated that the employer must pay thousands of Hong Kong dollars for the travel expenses after the termination of the foreign domestic helper contract. The clauses are vague, allowing unscrupulous foreign domestic helper agents or foreign domestic helpers to use the grey area to make harsh or unreasonable demands on the employer. The contents of the standard contract should be clarified as soon as possible.