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SLW meets Philippines Secretary of Labor and Employment (with photos)

     The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, met the visiting high-level delegation led by the Secretary of Labor and Employment of the Philippines, Ms Rosalinda Dimapilis Baldoz, today (August 7).

     They exchanged views on a range of issues pertaining to foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), including the policy background of allowing the importation of FDHs into Hong Kong and the need to maintain such a policy, labour protection and support services available to FDHs in Hong Kong, and how both sides can work together in strengthening the monitoring of employment agencies (EAs) as well as increasing the transparency of the placement fees charged on FDHs.

     Mr Cheung began by expressing gratitude for the significant contributions of FDHs to Hong Kong. He stressed that the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is committed to protecting the rights of FDHs. He noted that FDHs, like local workers, enjoy comprehensive statutory employment protection under the Employment Ordinance and the Employees' Compensation Ordinance. They are further protected by a Government-prescribed Standard Employment Contract under which FDHs enjoy wage protection through the Minimum Allowable Wage and a range of in-kind benefits including free food, free accommodation and medical benefits. In the case of a labour dispute, they have full access to the free consultation and conciliation services, or can call the 24-hour hotline provided by the Labour Department.

     "In order to raise the awareness of FDHs about their rights, the Labour Department has stepped up publicity and educational efforts through various channels. We have also strengthened collaboration with the consulates of FDH-sending countries in Hong Kong to co-ordinate mutual efforts and share intelligence," Mr Cheung said.

     "To strengthen the regulation over EAs in Hong Kong, we have increased the frequency of inspecting EAs and are in the process of drafting a Code of Practice for the trade. In addition, the Labour Department has strengthened liaison and information sharing with the consulates with a view to tackling the issue that FDHs might have to pay exorbitant placement fees in their home countries before their departure for Hong Kong," Mr Cheung added.

     At the end of the meeting, both governments reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing collaboration in protecting the well-being of Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong. A high-level reciprocal visit programme will be established for senior officials of both governments to update each other on their policies and efforts in protecting FDHs. It was also agreed that both sides would work closely together to enhance the transparency of the placement fees to prevent Filipino domestic helpers from being charged any fees that are not permitted under the laws in either place.

     Currently, there are about 178 000 Filipino domestic helpers here, accounting for 53 per cent of the total FDH population of 337 000.

Ends/Friday, August 7, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:50


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