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Deal with accredited EAs, report overcharging, labatt urges

21 September 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

Filipino jobseekers should always find out whether the Hong Kong partner of their Philippine recruiter is accredited with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, or POLO.

And if they are overcharged by their agencies, they should file a complaint immediately.

Labour Attaché Nida Romulo
These were the key messages that Labour Attaché Nida Romulo sent out to those intending to work in Hong Kong, during an interview on Sept. 4

“Kapag nalaman namin ang tungkol sa overcharging, we will act appropriately on the complaint,” the labor attaché said.

Romulo spoke after another victim of overcharging went to the POLO on Sept 2 to complain against a Hong Kong agency that allegedly charged her $5,000 for finding her an employer here.

The agency, named in the complaint as Promise Employment Centre, was not accredited by POLO, nor was it licensed  by Hong Kong’s Employment Agencies Administration. To get the contract processed, it reportedly secured the services of a licensed operator, Top Wealth Employment Agency, which effectively acted as its sub-agent.

Promise allegedly charged the worker $5,000, which she paid in two installments. On top of this, her employer was charged $11,500 to secure her services.

When the worker learned that she was supposed to have been charged only $441 as agency commission, she complained to the agency.

In retaliation, Promise allegedly tried to discredit her with her employers, telling them that she was no longer happy working for them. That prompted her to go to POLO.

The labor office found out that Promise was not an accredited agency so it chased the sub-agent, Top Wealth, and ordered it to return the overcharged amount.

A Top Wealth representative, Jonathan Magbanua, returned $2,500 to the complainant to settle the dispute.

Incidentally, Top Wealth is still suspended by POLO for acting as sub-agent of another unaccredited operator, Vast Sky Employment Agency, which allegedly charged another worker $12,500 as placement fee.

Romulo said workers should deal only with licensed and accredited agencies in the Philippines and Hong Kong in order to be better protected against agency abuse.

“The workers should be discerning of the agencies that process their applications. They should go to accredited agencies and not to the sub-agents,” the labor attaché said.

She also urged all workers to spare time to read the booklets handed out by the Labour Department regarding employment agencies in Hong Kong.

“Tumutulong kami sa kanila sa abot ng aming makakaya,” Labatt Nida said as she urged victims of unscrupulous agencies or abusive employers to come forward and file complaints.

“Pero kung hindi sila magsasabi, hindi namin malalaman ang problema nila,” she said.

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