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HK authorities under fire over Pinay’s claim of forced illegal work in China

14 April 2016

By The SUN staff
Legislator Leung Kwok-hung 
The Hong Kong government said it is committed to protecting the rights of foreign domestic workers after a newly-arrived Filipina maid disclosed on Jan 12 that her Hong Kong employer had taken her to China to work for a friend.
The 23-year-old Filipina, identified in news reports only as Rosgen, told local media that she was under the impression that she was being taken by her employer on a vacation in China on Dec. 29.
“My employer told me we were travelling to the mainland, but when we got to her friend’s place, she said I must work there,” Rosgen was quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying. When she protested, her employer reportedly warned her that she would be sent back to the Philippines if she did not comply.
Rosgen’s case is not unique. Several Filipinas who have gone through the same experience have told The SUN they agreed to work across the border for fear of losing their jobs.
But a press statement posted on the Hong Kong government’s website on Jan. 13 reiterated that the contracts of foreign helpers provide that “a helper shall work and live in the employer's home in Hong Kong.”
“The contract also provides that an FDH shall only perform domestic duties in the employer's residence as set out in the contract,” he said.
However, it is not uncommon for Hong Kong employers to take their helpers along with them for extended vacations abroad, with the mainland being just one of several destinations,
Rosgen said she arrived in Hong Kong in early December and was taken shortly afterward by her employer to a friend’s house in a remote town in Guangdong where she was made to work.
She worked in the mainland home for 12 consecutive days before she was brought back to Hong Kong on Jan. 10 via the Lok Ma Chau border crossing.
At the border, the Filipina said she passed a note to an Immigration officer asking for help in contacting her recruitment agency but it was ignored.
Legislator Leung Kwok-hung who is assisting Rosgen, hit out at the department for ignoring her appeal.
However, a spokesman for the department said a review of the closed-circuit television footage showed the domestic helper acting and behaving normally as they walked past the immigration counter.
The representative said officers thought the domestic helper merely wanted to contact her agent and suggested she use the public phones in the border control building.
Immigration officers subsequently took Rosgen to police to file a complaint. At the same time, the department said it has begun an internal investigation into the handling of the Filipina’s request for help.
It said a separate investigation was underway into Rosgen’s allegation that her employer had caused her to do illegal work while in China.
Rosgen said she plans to file a complaint against her employer with the Labor Department, with help from her agent.
In a statement, a Government spokesman said the Hong Kong government is committed to protecting the rights of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong.
“The Employment Contract for a Domestic Helper Recruited from Outside Hong Kong (the Contract) provides that an FDH shall work and reside in the employer's residence in Hong Kong as stated in the Contract.  The Contract also provides that an FDH shall only perform domestic duties in the employer’s residence as set out in the Contract.  Moreover, the employer and the FDH are required to undertake in the relevant visa application forms that the FDH will reside in the employer’s residence as stated in the Contract and will not perform duties other than those set out therein.
“Further, under the prevailing laws, a person who makes false statement to the ImmD commits an offence and is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years.  If it is found that other offences are suspected to have been committed, relevant law enforcement departments will follow up with the matter in a serious manner.
“As a complaint has been lodged by the person concerned, relevant departments have commenced investigations.  As regards the FDH’s allegations on how her case was handled by the staff of the boundary control point, the ImmD is conducting an internal investigation.”
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