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Foreign carers to be allowed into HK from next year, says labor chief

11 November 2022

By The SUN

Elderly care homes are among those to be allowed to hire foreign workers (File)

Hong Kong has moved closer to allowing foreign workers to come in and work exclusively as caregivers, not just in private homes, but also in government-subsidized care homes for the elderly and the disabled.

This was announced by Labour Secretary Chris Sun today, Friday, in an interview with The Standard.

"The shortage of care workers does not exist only in private homes. Care homes of all kinds are all facing a severe shortage of employees so this new scheme will apply to all homes, including subsidized homes, contract homes and private homes," Sun was quoted as saying.


However, no details were mentioned as to the exact date of the recruitment, or the qualifications that must be met by the foreign hires. 

His statement followed Chief Executive John Lee’s announcement in his policy address last month that homes will be allowed to hire non-local care workers, but did not clarify if this covered even publicly-funded homes.

Right now, only private homes are allowed to hire non-locals, but are required to hire two locals for every foreign worker they take in.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Sun said the government plans to adjust this ratio, as the training programs given to local workers interested in becoming carers have resulted in only a few takers.

The move is being opposed by labour groups.

According to the article, Federation of Trade Union legislator Kingsley Wong Kwok said only 20% of the 1,750 local workers who received training in elderly care recently took up jobs in the industry due to the long working hours and low salaries.


The report said care home workers are paid only from $10,000 to $12,000 monthly while those who work in catering and retail earn above $14,000.

The unions are calling for a $20,000 monthly salary for the carers to entice more local workers to join the sector.

At the height of the fifth wave of the pandemic in March this year, the government was constrained to hire 1,000 care workers from the Mainland on a short-term basis, who were paid of $30,000 a month.

Press for details

Another FTU member, Michael Luk said the government’s plan is unnecessary and unfair, and has sparked fears among local carers that foreign workers will take away their jobs.

With the unemployment rate at 3 to 4 percent, the labor legislators say there will be no shortage of local workers looking for a job.

To this, Sun suggested Hongkongers could aspire to work as “health workers” which should give better pay, instead of care workers.


The plan to hire foreign workers as carers has long been considered by the Hong Kong government. In her policy address in October 2017, then Chief Executive Carrie Lam made the same announcement, but the plan did not get off the ground also due to opposition from the local work force.

But it did not deter Philippine and Indonesian consulate officials from pushing for an upgrade of their nationals working as foreign domestic helpers here, as many of them are qualified nurses or had caregiving certificates.

When first posted in Hong Kong in early 2018, then Consul General Antonio Morales cited this as one of his priorities. The Labour Attache Jalilo dela Torre also started looking into preparing FDHs with medical training for the promised jobs, but they did not materialize.


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