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HK further tightens grip on suspected ‘job-hoppers’

14 November 2021

By The SUN 


FDH leaders protest outside Immigration Tower against 'job hopping' crackdown (File)

The Hong Kong government has further tightened its policy against so-called “job-hoppers,” or foreign domestic helpers suspected of abusing the system that allows them to remain in the city to change employers after their contracts are prematurely terminated.

In a letter sent to employment agency operators on Nov 12, the Employment Agencies Administration of the Department of Labour said that for the first nine months of this year, 1,332 visa applications from suspected job hoppers were denied.

The number, said the letter, was already four times the number of visa rejections made by the Immigration Department for the whole of last year.

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The letter reminded employment agencies to strictly observe the anti-job hopping policy and not induce FDHs to move to new employers in exchange for financial reward.

EAA said that in 2020, the Labour Department received a total of 29 complaints involving agencies that induced FDHs to job-hop. The figure “surged to 120 in the first nine months of 2021,” added the letter.

However, the letter did not explicitly connect the alleged inducements with the much bigger number of FDHs who were denied the right to remain in Hong Kong to process a new work contract.

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Thomas Chan, president of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, said the government should first make clear what the term “job hopping” entails.

“What law is being applied? Why are FDHs the only ones being targeted? This is a clear violation of Hong Kong’s laws against discrimination,” Chan said.

He said there is no law that prohibits people in Hong Kong from changing employers. In fact, clause 10 of the standard employment contract gives the right to both the employer and the worker to terminate their contract by giving a month's notice, or pay in lieu.

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“There is no other sector where workers are prohibited from choosing their employers,” said Chan. So, this smacks of human rights violations and discrimination against FDHs, he added.

He said that since about a month ago, more than 95% of all visa applications by prematurely terminated workers have been rejected by Immigration.

In most of these cases, he said the officer who rejected the application based his decision only on the employer’s comments in the release letter, and did not give the worker a chance to explain.

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Chan’s view is shared by many support organizations for FDWs, including the Mission for Migrant Workers which has always derided the idea of job-hopping.

Mission’s general manager Cynthia Tellez has said that most migrant workers who come to Hong Kong would not deliberately give up their jobs for which they spent huge amounts of money to secure, in the off-chance they would find a better employer.

Chan says employers will be the biggest losers in the renewed crackdown

Chan also took issue with the EAA’s statement that “in general, employers expect FDHs to complete the two-year Standard Employment Contract.”

He asked, “Then how about those who were terminated by their employers? Don’t they have the same expectation about their job security? Shouldn’t there be counter measures against the ‘terminators’?”

Chan said preventing FDHs who are already in Hong Kong from processing new employment contracts here would further broaden the gap between supply and demand. "Ironically it is the employers who will end up being the biggest losers here," he said.

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In its advisory, EAA warned of joint operations by Labour and Immigration to inspect the offices of agencies suspected of encouraging or inducing FDHs to job-hop.

In line with their Code of Practice, agencies are “required to act honestly and exercise due diligence when providing placement service to employers and job seekers,” said the EAA. This means, ensuring that the workers they recommend meet the employer’s requirements, it added.

For FDHs suspected of job hopping Immigration will not only refuse their employment visa applications, it will also keep their application records in assessing any future applications they may make, said the EAA.

Aside from this, workers suspected of making false representation to an immigration officer in their visa applications, including the reason for the premature termination of their contracts, may be prosecuted.

The advisory said offenders are liable to prosecution and if convicted, could face a maximum fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years. Aiders and abettors commit the same offence.

For employment agencies found to have induced FDHs to shift employers, the Commissioner for Labour may revoke or refuse to issue or renew its licence, or issue warnings so the irregularities they committed could be rectified.

Any questions regarding this issue may be addressed to the Labour Department at 2115 3667. For enquiries on FDH employment visa applications, please call Immigration’s enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by sending email to enquiry@immd.gov.hk. Labour Department Employment Agencies

 Administration 


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