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Big HK corporations pledge support for ethical hiring of FDWs

13 November 2016

L to R:  Fair Employment Foundation’s Scott Stiles, Shangri-La’s Anissa Yao, Macquarie'ss Ben Way, Thomson Reuters’ Kimberley Cole, Barclays’ Anthony Davies, Harvey Nash’s - Tim Cox, Hasbro’s Greg Morley and KPMG’s Jackie Lee.

By Daisy CL Mandap
Seven top companies in Hong Kong have signed the “Fair Hire Pledge” to support a campaign promoting the ethical hiring of foreign domestic workers.
The pledge bound the companies to make their employees aware of the problems faced by domestic helpers though information sessions and training workshops, and to take action, if necessary, to help protect the workers’ rights.
The pledging session organized by the Fair Employment Foundation was held on Nov. 4 at the Macquarie offices at the International Finance Center in Central.
Those who joined the inaugural pledge held on Nov. 4 at the International Finance Centre were Barclays, Harvey Nash, Hasbro, KPMG, Macquarie Group, Shangri-La and Thomson Reuters.
Fair Employment's Scott Stiles
Scott Stiles, co-founder and general manager of the Foundation, said he hoped that more companies would also take the pledge.
“With their support we want Hong Kong to set the standard for ethical hiring of domestic workers and we look forward to welcoming more Fair Hire Pledge companies over the coming months,” he said in a statement.
Macquarie Group Asia chief executive officer Ben Way said the Foundation’s advocacy echoes his own company’s campaign against modern-day slavery.
He related how Macquarie had funded a year-long research that looked at issues involving foreign domestic workers in a bid to help them have a better life.
“Unfortunately, as that report has found, there are many instances within our community where those foreign workers were inherently a form of modern slaves and again, in a city as wealthy, as cosmopolitan as Hong Kong, that’s frankly not acceptable,” Way said.
He thus welcomed the chance to address the issue by being among the first signatories of the Fair Hiring Pledge.
Macquarie Group Asia CEO Ben Way
At the launch, Stiles said getting corporate support was the latest step taken by his group to extend protection to some 340,000 migrant workers in Hong Kong who are routinely exploited from the time they leave their home country.
A study reportedly showed that domestic workers are charged fees of up to four times their monthly salary by their recruitment agency. This is despite laws prohibiting the collection of any such fee in the Philippines, while in Hong Kong, the maximum amount that could be collected is just ten percent of the worker’s first monthly salary.
With this in mind, the Fair Employment Agency was set up two years ago. FEA undertook to remove the burden of paying agency fees from domestic workers and to promote the concept of transparent and ethical service to both employers and workers.
Its most recent thrust has propelled the Foundation into working with big companies to send its message across to even bigger audiences.
“After this signing, we will be doing the rounds of companies and provide training on ‘what does it mean to act fairly,” said Stiles.
The training will encourage the company’s staff to do three things: ask, report and support.
The first involves finding out (1) whether the agency collected any fee from the worker, and (2) whether it kept the workers’ passport for any reason.
The reporting phase will kick in when an affirmative answer is obtained for either of the two questions, while the support phase will require employers to allow their workers time to file a case should this become necessary.
Stiles said these all need to be done “so we can change people’s minds and help them benefit from doing what is right”.
Those who signed the Pledge apart from Way were Shangri-La’s HR director Anissa Yao, Thomson Reuters’ head of sales and business development Kimberley Cole, Barclays chief executive Anthony Davies, Harvey Nash director of financial services Tim Cox, Hasbro’s vice president for human resources Greg Morley, and KPMG senior manager Jackie Lee.

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