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LCQ10: Care workers imported under Supplementary Labour Scheme

     Following is a question by the Hon Ip Wai-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (December 9):


     At present, among the job vacancies processed under the Supplementary Labour Scheme (SLS), the main type of jobs is Care Worker (Elderly Service).  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of care workers imported under SLS in each of the past three years, as well as their average, highest and lowest monthly salaries and working hours; the respective numbers of applications submitted by residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs) of private undertakings and social service organisations; whether there was a big difference in the number of applications from these two kinds of organisations; if so, of the reasons for that;

(b) whether it knows the total number of posts of Care Worker (Elderly Service) in Hong Kong at present and, among them, the number of posts held by local employees, and their average monthly salary and working hours;

(c) whether the authorities will set manpower ratios on care workers for the various types of RCHEs; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(d) of the number of training courses the Government organised for care workers in RCHEs in each of the past three years and whether it knows the number of graduated trainees who were employed as care workers for six months or longer; whether it will consider increasing the number of such training places; if it will not, of the reasons for that?



(a) In 2007, 2008 and 2009 (from January to October), the Labour Department (LD) approved under SLS the importation of 372, 522 and 192 workers respectively to take up the posts of Care Worker (Elderly Service).

     Workers imported under SLS are required to be paid at a level no less than the median monthly wages of local workers in comparable positions.  The Census and Statistics Department will update these wage statistics every six months.  The median monthly wages applicable to the imported Care Workers (Elderly Service) mentioned above are as follows:

Date of Employment              Median Monthly Wages
------------------              --------------------
January 1, 2007 to March 28, 2007       6,690
March 29, 2007 to March 26, 2009        6,940
March 27, 2009 to September 28, 2009    7,010
September 29, 2009 to late March 2010   7,110

     All these imported Care Workers (Elderly Services) were employed by private RCHEs.  The Government has not compiled statistics on their average working hours.  To encourage subsidised RCHEs to employ local workers, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) will include in the contracts to be signed with operators of subsidised contract RCHEs clauses which prohibit the importation of care workers under SLS.  Agreements signed between SWD and private RCHEs participating in the Enhanced Bought Place Scheme (EBPS) also contain similar requirements.

(b) At present, about 9,800 care workers are employed by RCHEs in Hong Kong, of whom some 9,100 are local employees and the rest are imported workers from the Mainland. The median monthly wages of local care workers are provided in the reply to part (a) above. The Government has not compiled statistics on their average working hours.

(c) The Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance (Cap 459) and the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Regulation (Cap 459A), which came into full operation in June 1996, provide for the regulation of RCHEs through a licensing system administered by the Director of Social Welfare (DSW).  The licensing requirements cover aspects such as health, sanitation, staffing, safety, location, premises design, structure, equipment, fire precautions and size of RCHEs.

     On the issue of manpower ratio, Schedule 1 of the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Regulation (see Annex) sets out the minimum staffing requirements of various types of RCHEs under the licensing system.  Besides, all subsidised RCHEs must comply with the relevant staffing standards in addition to the licensing requirements.  Subvented RCHEs are required, inter alia, to meet the staffing requirements set out in the Funding and Service Agreements signed with SWD.  Operators of contract RCHEs also have to set the numbers of various types of staff in accordance with their service commitments.  Private RCHEs participating in EBPS are also required to meet a staffing standard higher than the licensing requirements so as to further enhance the quality of care services.

     Apart from meeting the licensing requirements for RCHEs, RCHEs which offer nursing home places are also required to be registered under the Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Maternity Homes Registration Ordinance (Cap.165) and comply with the relevant staffing requirements.

(d) At present, there are altogether 27 training bodies approved by DSW to provide training courses for health workers.  Their graduates can work as either health workers or care workers.  Every year, SWD asks the training bodies to indicate the number of places planned for the health worker training courses in the coming year.  Based on information collected in such exercises, these courses offered some 4,500 places over the past three years. As graduates can take up a wide range of jobs, we have not compiled statistics on the number of graduates employed as care workers.

      According to SWD, the overall number of training places for health workers has been increasing continuously in recent years.  Training bodies will provide courses related to elderly services and adjust the number of training places in response to the needs of the industry.  For example, among the training bodies appointed by the Employees Retraining Board (ERB), 14 have been offering a full-time placement-tied Diploma in Health Worker Training Course since the latter half of 2008, and 15 are offering a full-time placement-tied Certificate in Personal Care Worker Training Course.  ERB is planning to provide more courses on elderly services through the "Skills Upgrading Scheme Plus" in 2010-11.

Ends/Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:51


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