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Safety clause on cleaning outward-facing windows to be added to Standard Employment Contract for foreign domestic helpers
     The Labour Department (LD) announced today (November 14) that starting from January 1, 2017 (Sunday), the Standard Employment Contract (SEC) for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) will include a new clause on cleaning outward-facing windows to safeguard the occupational safety of FDHs.

     The new clause stipulates that, when an employer requires the helper to clean the outside of any window which is not located on the ground level or adjacent to a balcony (on which it must be reasonably safe for the helper to work) or common corridor, this must be performed under the following conditions:

(i) the window being cleaned is fitted with a grille which is locked or secured in a manner that prevents the grille from being opened; and

(ii) no part of the helper's body extends beyond the window ledge except the arms.

     A spokesman for the Labour Department said, "The HKSAR Government is committed to safeguarding the occupational safety of employees, including FDHs. In view of the community's concerns about the safety of FDHs when cleaning outward-facing windows, the LD has over the past few weeks consulted various stakeholders, including the consuls general (CGs) of FDHs' home countries in Hong Kong, FDH employer groups, FDH groups and employment agencies associations. They all care about the safety of FDHs and accept that FDHs should not be asked to work in unsafe situations. We are grateful to all stakeholders who have provided us with pragmatic and useful suggestions on how to ensure that FDHs can perform exterior window cleaning safely." 

     Meanwhile, the LD and the Occupational Safety and Health Council will further step up publicity and education efforts to enhance the awareness of employers and FDHs of household and occupational safety, particularly in respect of the safety precautions to be taken when cleaning outward-facing windows.

     On the implementation arrangements, all contracts signed on or after January 1, 2017 must adopt the revised SEC with the new clause added. The revised version of the SEC will be available for collection at the Information and Liaison Section of the Immigration Department (ImmD) on the second floor, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong starting from December 31, 2016.

     For contracts signed on or before December 31, 2016 using the old version of the SEC, they will still be processed by the ImmD provided that the applications reach the ImmD on or before January 27, 2017 (Friday). Late applications will not be accepted.

     The spokesman added, "Although the new clause is only applicable to new contracts signed on or after January 1, 2017, the LD strongly urges all employers who have engaged FDHs under the existing contacts to follow these requirements to ensure the occupational safety of FDHs."
Ends/Monday, November 14, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:55
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