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Labour chief says HK remains closed to Mainland helpers

10 June 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Law says Mainland DHs can't be allowed in because of immigration and security concerns (File)

Hong Kong has no plans to open its gates to mainland domestic helpers and allow them to fill the supply gap caused by pandemic-related entry restrictions, including a flight ban on the Philippines.

Labour and Welfare Secretary Law Chi-kwong said so in answer to a query by pro-Beijing Legislator Starry Lee in the Legislative Council yesterday, June 9, on what the government is doing to help families that are desperately in need of FDHs.

Lee said that because of travel and quarantine restrictions, the daily arrival of FDHs in Hong Kong has fallen significantly. As a result, a number of families have been unable to hire FDHs and wages for helpers have surged, she said.

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She added that there are those who believe importing Mainland domestic helpers, or MDHs, may alleviate the problem. By importing MDHs , she said the elderly may receive better care because there will be no language barrier with the carer.

Lee made reference to Macau’s practice of importing MDHs, and suggested that Hong Kong may do the same “so that a certain number of MDHs may be imported under a pilot scheme.”

But Law rejected the suggestion, citing immigration and security considerations as the reason for not allowing Chinese residents of the Mainland, Macau and Taiwan, as well as Afghan, Cuban, Laotian, North Korean, Nepalese and Vietnamese to work as helpers in Hong Kong.


“The government has no plan to make changes. Save from the above, the government has not imposed any restrictions on, nor does it promote the employment of FDHs of, any particular nationalities,” Law said.

He said employers may, depending on individual needs, be allowed to hire FDHs from any countries and regions other than those specified above.”

He cited in particular Hong Kong’s decision in March 2017 to allow Cambodian domestic helpers to come and work in the city.

Figures provided by the Immigration Department showed that between April and May this year, the number of Filipino helpers in Hong Kong fell by 1.4% to 204,152, mainly due to the flight ban on the Philippines and other “extremely high-risk” places.

But even without a similar flight ban on Indonesia, the FDHs coming in from the country also fell 1.5% to 152,810 in May.

Filipinos and Indonesians make up about 97.5 % of the 366,000 total FDH population.     

Law says Immigration is speeding up processing of employment contracts to fill the shortage 

As part of the bid to ease the problems with FDH shortage, Law said Labour will continue “to keep in contact with the governments of FDH source countries and their consulates general in Hong Kong to encourage their nationals to come to work as FDHs in Hong Kong.”

He added the government has tried its best to help FDHs and their employers cope with the coronavirus pandemic, including allowing the extension of employment contracts for up to three months, and further extending the time when helpers may defer their return home.

He said in January-May 2020, the Immigration Department approved close to 190,000 employment visas for FDHs and over 150,000 for the same period this year.

These include visa applications from FDHs renewing contracts with the same employer, extending the validity of their employment contracts, or postponing their return home.

Because of the pandemic, Immigration also approved around 23,000 applications for change of employers by FDHs dismissed prematurely between May last year and May this year.

Law said that because Immigration understands the need of local families for FDHs amid the pandemic it has been expediting the processing of new applications so that FDHs could report for duty in Hong Kong as soon as possible. This practice will continue.

In the meantime, local families who need helpers urgently could consider hiring from among local workers who have undergone training for domestic work provided by the Employees Retraining Board.

From January to May this year alone, Labour’s Interactive Employment Service website has posted more than 1,200 local domestic helper positions, most of them part-time positions.

In addition, employers of FDHs who are unable to come or return to Hong Kong due to the travel restrictions may make use of the contract extension or home leave deferment offered by Immigration “to allow their current FDHs to (remain) in Hong Kong to take care of the elderly in the household,” Law said.

He said the Social Welfare Department has been providing training to FDHs so they can better take care of elderly persons.\

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