LCQ18: Foreign domestic helpers

     Following is a question by the Hon Dennis Kwok and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (March 19):


     The Standard Employment Contract (SEC) for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) drawn up by the Government stipulates that FDHs shall work and reside in the residences at the employers' residential addresses written on such contracts. However, it has been reported earlier that some employers have failed to provide FDHs with suitable accommodation, e.g. some FDHs having to sleep on the floor in the kitchen or bathroom or sleep beneath a table, and quite a number of FDHs having to rent accommodation elsewhere. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of complaints received by the authorities in the past three years about alleged breaches of SEC by employers; among such complaints, of the number of cases which were related to the lodging arrangements for FDHs and the number of substantiated ones in those cases; and

(2) whether the authorities will review the policy concerning SEC and its implementation; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     My reply to the Hon Dennis Kwok's question is as follows:

(1) The Government has not kept figures on complaints related to alleged breaches of the Standard Employment Contract (SEC).

(2) As in many other jurisdictions, it has been the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government's established policy that priority in employment is accorded to the local workforce, and importation of workers is only allowed where there is proven manpower shortage in certain trades that cannot be filled by local workers. In accordance with this principle, foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) have been imported since the early 1970's to meet the acute shortfall of local live-in domestic workers. The "live-in requirement" is the cornerstone of and prerequisite for the policy of importing FDHs in Hong Kong and it has been clearly specified in the SEC.

     Apart from the above cardinal policy considerations, the employers' affordability in providing separate accommodation to their FDHs, the additional medical costs, insurance and other risks by allowing FDHs to live out as well as issues such as the additional pressure on private housing and public transportation, etc. should also be taken into account. The Government considers it necessary to retain the "live-in requirement" and the relevant requirements specified in the SEC for FDHs.

     If an FDH or an employer is in breach of his/her undertaking in respect of the residential address or accommodation arrangement in SEC and relevant application forms, the Immigration Department will take into consideration their acts and may refuse the FDH's future applications for employment visa or extension of stay; or the employer's future applications for employment of FDHs. If the employer and/or FDH furnish/furnishes false information in the applications, they may violate the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115). Under the prevailing legislation, it is an offence for any person to make a false representation to Immigration Officers. Offenders shall be liable to prosecution and a maximum fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years on conviction. Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution.

Ends/Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:07