Foreign domestic helpers who have been fired should be allowed to continue working in the city while officials process any complaints they may have about their contracts being terminated, says Manila's point man for labour in Hong Kong.
The Philippine labour attaché, Manuel Roldan, also said it would be "ideal" if helpers were not obliged to live with their bosses.
Roldan spoke as a report found rampant violations of laws that require job agencies to accept no placement fees or only a fixed amount from the helpers.
Current rules ban helpers from taking up paid work after their contracts are ended prematurely.
"It should be properly considered by the Hong Kong government, that the workers be allowed to at least temporarily find a job when [complaints] are being processed," Roldan said.
They would otherwise find it tough to meet expenses in Hong Kong without any salary, he said.
The report released yesterday said 90 per cent of helpers paid recruitment agencies in the city placement fees that were more than the legally allowed amount.
And despite the Philippine government barring agencies in the country from charging any such fees, 99 per cent of agencies violated this law, the Alliance of Progressive Labour-Hong Kong and the Progressive Labour Union of Domestic Workers in Hong Kong said in the report.
Roldan said his office used to accept complaints of excessive fees only when the helpers' employment was terminated. But in December 2012, his office started helping those whose contracts were still in effect.
Since then, the number of complaints on placement fees has shot up from about 2,000 a year to more than 9,000 last year. About half of the complaints had been settled, although many workers retrieved only part of the exorbitant fees they had paid.
Hong Kong laws allow agencies to charge helpers 10 per cent of their first month's wages, meaning HK$401. But the report showed 90 per cent of the 1,200 helpers polled in 2012 paid more than that - on average HK$8,123.
The rule requiring helpers to live with their employers is another point of contention. They have been demanding its abolishment, as it means they have no escape when physically abused.
Roldan said letting the helpers live elsewhere could make them "safer".
But he acknowledged the government's concern that the city might not have enough space to let that happen.