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Job-hopping legislation still in the cards

29 February 2024


The revised Code will have anti-job hopping provisions

A revised Code of Practice (CoP) for employment agencies that will incorporate provisions related to the so-called job hopping practice of some foreign domestic helpers will come into force by April this year.

This was according to Labour Secretary Chris Sun who spoke at the Legislative Council meeting yesterday, Feb. 28 in response to queries from legislator Doreen Kong of  the Election Committee constituency.

“After concluding the consultation exercise on the preliminary proposals for revising the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies (CoP) in the first half of 2023, the LD has analysed and examined the feedback received,” he said.

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“Currently, the LD is finalising the revised content of the CoP taking into account the suggestions and concerns raised by different stakeholders, as well as formulating the mechanism for enforcing the revised CoP. The LD will promulgate the revised CoP in the second quarter of this year."

Sun said that the new rules will require EAs to request employers and FDHs to acknowledge in writing that they have been briefed on the standard employment contract for FDHs and the Labour Ordinance.

Agencies must also explain to FDHs the requirements for changing employers, and get them to sign a written acknowledgment that this has been done.


However, audio or video recordings of EAs making such explanations will not be required, contrary to proposals made by some employers and legislators.

The revised CoPs will also expressly prohibit EAs from providing incentives to FDHs to entice them to switch employers. Violators may be meted sanctions.

But Secretary Sun declined to give in to suggestions that employers be exempted from providing a return air ticket to FDHs who terminate their employment contracts.


Kong has suggested that Labor strengthen its cooperation with source countries for FDHs so that “immoral EAs and FDHs” cannot obtain by deception agency fees and contract benefits such as free return air tickets.

Sun said that employers are obliged to provide their FDH with free return passage to his/her place of origin upon termination or expiry of the contract, to ensure the FDH’s smooth return to their place of origin and prevent them being stranded in HK due to a lack of travel expenses.

As for the agency fees, the revised CoP will require EAs to specify in a written agreement with employers, whether they will provide a refund or an alternative arrangement to replace FDHs who terminate their contracts. A sample service agreement with this clause will be appended to the CoP, but it will not make refund arrangements mandatory.

According to Kong, job-hopping or the premature termination of contracts to change employers has not abated, despite the short supply of FDHs in Hong Kong.

But Sun denied this, saying that there has been an 80 percent decline in the number of visa applications from FDHs that were rejected due to suspected “job-hopping” over the past two years.

In 2023, the number of visa rejections fell to 502 from the 2,833 recording during the pandemic in 2021.

Migrant support organizations like the Mission for Migrant Workers and the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body have called the job-hopping allegations a “myth,” saying FDHs will not give up on a whim jobs they had spent money on, or if their employers have been good to them.

Besides, they said all FDHs are aware that if they terminate their contract they will be sent back home within 14 days, and if they want to work in Hong Kong again they will have to apply for a new contract from their home country, at great cost.

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