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Emry’s new DH recruits in limbo

18 July 2016

By Daisy CL Mandap

Caught in the aftermath of the recruitment scandal involving the biggest placement agency for Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong are an unknown number of its clients whose papers are still under process.
Records at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office show that the 30-year-old Emry's Service Staff Employment Agency had deployed a total of 1,467 Filipino workers to Hong Kong last year, or an average of about five a day.
By June 20 this year, when Polo put all its contracts on hold because of complaints that it was illegally recruiting Filipinos to work in third countries, Emry's had already processed 771 contracts.
The unravelling came after dozens of Filipino workers sought Polo's help, accusing Emry's owner Ester Ylagan of recruiting them for non-existent jobs in Britain and Canada.
As soon as the scandal hit the headlines, several job applicants took to social media to express concern.
The worry grew when Polo suspended Emry's contract processing, and mounted further when Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre recommended on July 6 that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) cancel the agency's accreditation.
Emry's, being a Hong Kong-based recruitment company, is licensed by the Employment Agencies Administration of the HK Labour Department.
Among those who posted their concerns on The SUN's Facebook page was a domestic worker who said her niece was still waiting for her medical clearance in the Philippines, one month after her employer paid the agency fee. Her niece's documents were yet to be submitted to Polo.
Another said she submitted her niece's papers to Polo on May 29, but was concerned they would not be processed because of the case.
At least two others said their relatives in the Philippines were undergoing training and were just waiting for their visas to be released by HK Immigration. Their worry was how the visas would get to them if Emry's was already closed.
Still another said she was anxious to pay the $1,500 that Emry's charged her, on top of the $7,500 charged her employer. She couldn't believe it when told that all she needed to pay under Hong Kong law was $410, or 10% of her first monthly salary.
Amid these concerns, Labor Attache Jalilo de la Torre gave assurance that all contracts submitted by Emry's to his office for processing had already been released.
"There are no more pending contracts of Emry's with us," he said.
As for those which were not submitted to Polo as of June 20, he said they remained "on hold".
This means that employers who had already paid the agency fee could try to get their money back from Emry's and look for another accredited agency to complete the process.
For the third category of workers, or those who are just waiting for their employment visas, Labatt de la Torre suggested that they still try to contact Emry's for updates.
"There's one female staff of Emry's who still goes to Immigration and coordinates things there," he said.
A fourth category would be those who already have their visas and are just waiting to fly to Hong Kong and assume their jobs. These are the ones who could fall into the cracks, with no agency to run to in case of trouble, or simply pick them up at the airport and guide them through the intricacies of working in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Emry's status also remains uncertain, while the POEA, the HK Labour Department and the HK Police, decide on its fate.
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