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Agencies exaggerated impact of PH flight ban, says Labour Secretary

25 April 2021

By The SUN 

Law Chi-kwong says only about 500 Filipino DHs have been affected by the flight ban

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said employment agencies have overestimated the impact of Hong Kong’s 14-day ban on flights from Manila.

Writing in his blog today, Apr 25, Law said only between 546 and 840 Filipino domestic workers have been affected, compared with the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies’ estimate of 1,800 helpers.


This was based on actual data that showed only an average of 39 Filipino helpers had arrived in Hong Kong each day before the flight ban took effect on Tuesday last week.

Law said the numbers dropped since the Philippine government imposed a lockdown in Metro Manila and four adjacent provinces at the end of last month.


But even given the previous daily average of 60 new arrivals, a maximum of just 840 Filipino DHs would be affected by the flight ban, which is less than half the number given by the agencies.

Last Tuesday, HKUEA chairman Thomas Chan told an RTHK program that the flight suspension would delay the arrival of as many as 1,800 FDHs. He also said employers who are in need of foreign helpers are offering far more than the minimum wage.

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But what he apparently failed to take into consideration was that no travel restriction is imposed on Indonesia, the other main source of FDHs in Hong Kong; thus the impact would not be as great.

Law said the overall number of domestic workers in Hong Kong had also decreased from 400,000 to around 370,000 during the pandemic.

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While admitting that the decline in the number of FDHs coming into Hong Kong would cause “great trouble to Hong Kong employers and families…” Law said the priority now is to get the epidemic under control.

To help ease the problem, he said the government has allowed expiring FDH contracts to be extended for three months, while those already in Hong Kong are allowed to extend their visas without having to go on home leave.


Employers could also ask quarantine hotels for refund if their bookings for arriving helpers were affected.

Law’s statement came as the Centre for Health Protection announced that a Filipina helper who arrived on Apr 10 was the lone carrier of the coronavirus variant among six new cases of Covid-19 infections.

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Earlier, Consul Paul Saret of the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section said terminated Filipino helpers will be helped in appealing to Immigration to allow them to process new work contracts here.

Saret said that given the difficulty of getting new Filipino helpers to come to Hong Kong because of the flight ban, allowing those already here to secure new employment would also benefit their would-be employers.

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Hong Kong halted all incoming flights from the Philippines, Pakistan and India for two weeks starting on Apr 20, saying most cases of variant-carrying new arrivals in the past 14 days previously had come from these places.

The three countries were also classified as “extremely high risk,” meaning the flight suspension could be extended further, depending on the infection situation in each place.


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