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Terminated FDHs may be asked to leave HK soon, labour chief says

21 August 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap
Law says HK has been trying to limit the number of FDHs entering HK since the coronavirus outbreak

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Labour, Law Chi-kwong has said that as part of efforts to decongest boarding houses run by employment agencies, foreign domestic helpers who were terminated under “suspicious circumstances” will no longer be granted visa extension, and told to leave at once.

Law said this at the press conference held this afternoon, Aug 21,  by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, along with six of her top officials.

“In the next few days, the Immigration Department will clear the backlog of applications as we want to reduce the length of stay in boarding facilities to just a few days,” said Law.
For those who finished their contracts and are moving to a new employer, the processing time will be cut from the current 4-6 weeks to just between a week to two weeks, he said.

“For applicants with terminated contracts the Immigration Department will ask the reason for the termination…and in suspicious cases, they will be asked to leave Hong Kong at once.”

Currently, thousands of FDHs whose contracts have been terminated have been allowed to stay because of limited flights, or the strict travel restrictions imposed in their home countries which make it almost impossible for them to go back.
In many cases, the FDHs with terminated contracts have also been allowed to process new contracts here and start working for their new employers, especially in exceptional cases, where the cause of termination was relocation or financial in nature.

FDHs with terminated contracts may be told to leave if they cannot justify their continued stay in HK

The labour chief said the Immigration Department has undertaken to speed up the processing of visa applications of FDHs in the wake of a cluster of infections found among Indonesian domestic workers staying in various agency-run dormitories.

As of the latest report from the Centre for Health Protection, 17 Indonesian maids who stayed in seven different agency shelters or boarding houses, have tested positive for Covid-19.
But Law noted that the rate of infection among FDHs was far lower than among the city’s general population, which he attributed to their high mobility.

Of the 1,800 specimen samples from FDHs who stay in agency-run shelters, only one tested positive, for a .008 positivity rate. Targeted tests done on other sectors in the community yielded a .01% positive result.

CE Lam, however, added a note of caution, saying more test results from the agency shelters and staff in the Kwai Tsing container port, where an even bigger cluster of about 70 infections have been found, will be reported early next week.

Law said that as part of the effort to contain the spread of the virus, employment agencies will be offered a one-off free test for their recruits who are about move in with new employers.

The new moves are said to be in line with the government’s policy imposed since March, of reducing the number of FDHs arriving in the city, and allowing those whose contracts have expired to remain if they have trouble exiting to their home countries.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, he said there was on average 580 FDHs arriving in the city each day. After the policy shift, the number was reduced to about 100 arrivals per day.

But since the negative test result for Covid-19 was made a precondition for them flying out to Hong Kong starting on Jul 25, the number has dwindled to just about 30 daily.

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