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Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Indonesian consulate issues set of rules for employment agencies in Hong Kong to combat misconduct

Companies must follow code from March 1 or risk having their accreditations revoked

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 11:43pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 9:30pm

The Indonesian consulate in Hong Kong has issued its own code of conduct for employment agencies, in an effort to crack down on industry malpractice.

From March 1, such companies must follow the set of rules or risk having their accreditations revoked by the consulate.

The code, launchedby Consul General Tri Tharyat yesterday,followed one which was released by the city’s Labour Department last month. “We are committed to protect Indonesian workers from being abused,” Tri said.

There are 18 sets of obligations under the code, which categorises failures to fulfil them under three types of violations. A light violation warrants just a written warning. For a moderate violation, the consulate will suspend the agency’s placement activities for a period of time yet to be determined. If the violation is a serious one, accreditation certificates issued by the consulate will be revoked.

The consulate requires agencies to file their accreditation renewal applications two months before they expire. Failure to do so would constitute a light violation.

“I was offended that one or two agencies sent me their business cards, basically to tell me they needed me to renew their licences,” Tri said of an earlier experience when agencies did not attach formal letters requesting renewals.

Hong Kong employment agencies risk losing their licence if they don’t follow new code of practice

A moderate violation will result if agencies do not help workers when they need to seek aid from police or the Labour Department, and if there is overcharging of placement fees.

It will be considered a serious violation if an agency has not recruited any domestic helpers for a year or longer.Another example is if, upon consulate inspections, the agencies fail to provide its business registrations issued by the Hong Kong government, accreditation certificates issued by the consulate, and a copy of the agency owner’s identity card.

 

Last month, the Labour Department issued its own code of practice. Among the rules is a requirement for agencies to draw up separate service agreements with domestic workers and employers which must clearly list the service terms and fees.

The department will also introduce an amendment bill later this year to increase the maximum penalty on agencies operating without a licence or overcharging job-seekers to HK$350,000 and imprisonment for three years.

Hong Kong Employment Agencies Association chairman Cheung Kit-man backed the consulate’s move, saying the consulate had already been imposing punishments such as licence suspension and revocation but they were now more clearly defined under the code.

Eni Lestari, spokeswoman of the Asia Migrants’ Coordinating Body, said many problems faced by domestic workers were caused by certain policies, such as requiring workers to live with their employers, and requiring them to leave two weeks after their contracts are terminated.

Only when these policies are reviewed will the city’s 350,000 maids be truly protected, she said.