• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 1:26pm
Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong
NewsHong Kong

Domestic helpers forced to pay agencies '20 times legal rate'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 4:54am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 10:59am

Nearly half of foreign domestic helpers have paid their job agencies more than Hong Kong laws allow, in some cases overpaying by more than 20 times the standard rate, a study shows.

And more than a fifth of employers find their workers do not meet promised levels of experience and language skills.

The findings, released yesterday by the Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs, indicate how recruitment agencies are exploiting both sides of the market.

Local laws allow agencies to charge helpers 10 per cent of their first month's wages, amounting to HK$401.

But 60 per cent of workers paid more, the study found, with about 15 per cent forking out more than HK$9,000 each.

"Some agencies know this is illegal, and they tell the workers to borrow from lenders," said the commission's secretary general, Teresa Mak Yau Mei-siu. "The agencies actually collude with the lenders and get a slice of the takings."

The commission polled 302 workers and 252 employers from October to February.

Almost 20 per cent of those workers said they had borrowed money from lenders.

Many said they did not report the agencies' excessive demands to the Labour Department for fear of losing their jobs.

The picture was almost as gloomy for employers.

More than a fifth of those polled said they found out only upon the helpers' arrival that the agencies had lied about their language abilities, work experience and education.

Some agencies even taught them to take away the workers' personal items, such as passports and bank cards, so they could not run away, according to 7.7 per cent of the employers.


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This article is now closed to comments

It's incredible. It's almost as if the laws in this area, and the (lack of) policing of those laws, are designed specifically to harm some of the most defenceless people in society. Makes you sick to think that the government (apparently) just sits on its hands singing "la la la I can't hear you" while all this goes on.
So why are the staff at the government labour department still sitting around doing nothing?..........get off your butt and go after these agencies!
It is quite clear that the problem is not just a few employment agencies. A very large number of agencies are clearly breaking the law. It is time that there was a real crackdown on this criminal element in our society. By exploiting the weak and defenseless, these agencies show human nature at its worst. There is no place for businesses like this in Hong Kong.


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