Trade Union concerned over strict policies by Immigration Dept which prevent FDHs from switching jobs due to mistreatment by employers

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8th August 2022 – (Hong Kong) The COVID-19 epidemic has plagued Hong Kong for more than two years, and the government’s strict anti-epidemic policies have also led to a continuous shortage of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong. A trade union that is concerned about the rights and interests of foreign domestic helpers said today (7th) that the relevant practices of the Immigration Department are disguised as deprivation of the contractual right to quit of foreign domestic helpers. As a result, mistreated foreign domestic helpers dare not quit their jobs.

However, some stressed that the foreign domestic helpers must work according to the contract, and employers should not raise their salaries on the grounds of shortage of supply, otherwise it will only cause more foreign domestic helpers (FDH) to switch jobs and ultimately affect the service quality. The Immigration Department replied that if there is evidence of mistreatment or exploitation after the termination of the employment contract, the Department may approve the change of employers in Hong Kong at its discretion, while the FDH suspected of “job-hopping” will be refused the relevant application. If they are required to leave Hong Kong, the Department will keep the relevant application records as one of the factors to consider when reviewing their work visa or extension of stay application again in the future.

From November last year to May this year, the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions interviewed 238 Filipino and Indonesian foreign domestic helpers. Their working experience in Hong Kong ranged from 4 months to 34 years. The contracts of about 20% of them had been terminated.

In the survey, 46% of foreign domestic helpers reported that they had suffered at least one kind of mistreatment, including working as long as 17 to 19 hours per day without a suitable place to sleep, no off-days, and the scope of work exceeded the contract content. Among them, 72% of the respondents did not stop work after being mistreated because most of them are worried that the Immigration Department will refuse to approve the visa on the grounds of “job-hopping”. Last year, there were 2,833 cases of refusal of visas by the Immigration Department due to suspected foreign domestic helpers who switched jobs, nine times the number of the previous year. The association pointed out that the relevant practices of the Immigration Department were disguised as deprivation of the contractual right to quit of foreign domestic helpers.

The Immigration Department’s accusation of job-hopping is very discriminatory and demeaning to foreign domestic helpers. It is hoped that the Department can explain the actual reasons why the foreign domestic helpers do not meet the visa application requirements. It demands that the discrimination be stopped and it should provide a complaint channel. The Equal Opportunities Commission has been urged to intervene.

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