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No ‘job-hoppers,’ only fired or fed up helpers, says agency union head

28 March 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Even agencies say FDHs look for other employers only when they aren't treated well

Most foreign domestic helpers who were denied a Hong Kong work visa in January-February were not “job-hoppers” but those who lost their jobs prematurely or quit due to serious disputes with their bosses, the head of an agency union said.

Thomas Chan, president of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, said that while it is true that there are agencies that encourage workers to change employers, they do so only if the helpers really intend to quit for valid reasons.


The Immigration Department said earlier it staged a joint operation on Mar 23 with the Labour Department to inspect “relevant agencies” and remind them not to encourage or induce FDHs to job-hop through business malpractices.

Chan denies agencies instigate FDHs to move to other employers

Immigration statistics released to The SUN Hong Kong showed visa rejections for FDHs suspected of being job-hoppers reached 355 in the first two months this year, exceeding last year’s annual total of 319.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Chan disputes the Immigration Department’s claim that the visa rejections were issued to workers quitting repeatedly because they were looking for better employers. He said the department clamped down due to pressure from employers and some Hong Kong lawmakers.

Chan cited as an example Legislative Councillor Regina Ip’s meeting with top officials of the Immigration and Labour Departments before the Lunar New Year, during which she called for improving the monitoring of agencies and FDHs “to protect the interests of employers.”

Ip during her meeting with officials of Immigration & Labour Departments

“(On) the whole, Immigration doesn’t really stand in the middle between employers and workers. This time, they stand with employers under pressure,” Chan said.

Pindutin para sa detalye

“Both consuls general of the Philippines and Indonesia should step in and approach Hong Kong Immigration not only to counterbalance the pressure from employers, but to protect workers’ right as well.”

The HKUEA leader said workers are aware of the consequences of quitting their jobs in order to switch employers.


“First, the worker can’t predict (if) the next employer will be better or worse in terms of treatment or attitude in cooperation; second, the change of job is not costless to the workers. They lose income while waiting for new visas,” Chan said.

He said that based on his experience as an agency owner, most workers who change employers do so because they have been terminated prematurely or forced to resign because of serious problems with their employers.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love


Chan’s view seems to be corroborated by troubled workers’ posts on social media, particularly on pages of support organizations like Domestic Workers Corner, where they air their ordeals or grievances against their employers.

In recent months, there have been dozens of requests for advice from workers who complain of being starved, overworked, not paid promptly, not allowed to take a day off for months on end, and not being given a decent sleeping space.

A few workers have also complained of physical abuse from members of the household, or indecent assaults by their male employers.   

Chan said that as regards the high demand for currently employed helpers, it is just natural for agencies to fight for the limited supply to win the hearts of employers and gain business.

“The more applicants in your hand, the higher your chance of beating your business rivals,” Chan said.

“However, I have to stress again, workers change jobs mainly because of their own problems with employers, not due to encouragement from agencies. This time, employers and the Immigration or Labour Department are blaming the wrong target again,” he said.


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