Response by the Labour Department to media enquiries on unscrupulous employment agencies

     ​In response to media enquiries on individual employment agencies (EAs) involving in referring foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong to work in other places, the Labour Department (LD) gave the following reply today (November 13):

     ​The LD takes vigorous enforcement against violation of relevant laws by employment agencies (EAs), and would take prompt action upon receiving complaints. In order to strengthen protection for FDHs and prevent them from being exploited by EAs, the LD maintains regular liaison mechanism with the Consulates General (CG) of the Philippines and other major FDH-sending countries for information sharing and follow-up of relevant cases.

     ​As regards the illegal conduct that EAs are suspected of referring FDHs to work in other places where in fact there is no such vacancy, the LD would immediately conduct investigation upon receiving complaints from the FDHs concerned or case referrals from the CGs, while at the same time referring the cases to the Police for follow-up in respect of EAs suspected of fraud. Apart from criminal investigation, the LD would also instigate investigation in respect of the EA's suspected contravention of the Code of Practice for EAs (the Code) (such as item 4.4 that requires EAs to check the accuracy of the information of employers, etc.). If there was any contravention of the Code detected, the Commissioner for Labour may consider revoking or refusing to renew the licence of the relevant EAs in accordance with existing mechanism. From 2013 to end-October 2017, the LD successfully prosecuted five EAs involving in illegal referral of job-seekers to work in other places, and revoked or refused to renew the licence of four EAs.

     ​The LD calls on FDHs who are suspected of being exploited by EAs to file a complaint with the Employment Agencies Administration as soon as possible so that the LD can follow up promptly. The LD has also approached the CG to obtain information of the EAs suspected of illegal conduct. To prevent FDHs from falling into such kind of job-seeking traps, the LD will, through its promotion and education as well as co-operation with relevant CGs, raise the awareness of FDHs on the issues they need to pay attention to when using EAs services.

     ​Lastly, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has liaised with the Philippines CG (PCG) and confirmed that the suspension of issue of the Overseas Employment Certificates by the Philippines Government from November 13 to December 1 is applicable to all overseas markets. It is not meant to target Hong Kong, nor is it related to the malpractices of individual EAs here.  The LD will continue to liaise with PCG in the hope that the Philippines Government would exempt Hong Kong from the temporary suspension measure and to resume as soon as possible the issue of the Overseas Employment Certificates to FDHs coming to Hong Kong.

Ends/Monday, November 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 22:18