Domestic helpers in Hong Kong promised flexible arrangements after Philippine government crackdown
Labour and Employment Department in Manila announced on Friday it would suspend new applications for overseas employment potentially affecting 1,000 families in Hong Kong
The Immigration Department will be flexible with work permits for foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, the city’s No 2 official has said, after the Philippine government stopped processing applications for overseas work.
“Under special circumstances, could the Immigration Department extend employment periods for some helpers, if their current visas expire soon and new visas[for other helpers] haven’t been approved?” Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said. “The department could also be flexible when considering individual cases.”
The remarks came after the Philippine Department of Labour and Employment announced on Friday it would suspend new applications for overseas employment certificates, a document necessary for all Filipinos planning to work abroad. The suspension would take effect on Monday and last till December 1.
The department said the suspension came after it had identified “persistent reports of illegal recruitment activities”. An investigation will be launched to identify the root of the problems.
The Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong earlier said the move could affect about 1,000 local families.
Cheung said on Sunday the government and the Philippine authorities had a good relationship and the recent move was not targeting Hong Kong.
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“We have asked [the Philippine government] to resume their service as soon as possible,” Cheung said, adding that more than half of the 370,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong were from the Philippines.
Cheung said families requiring assistance in taking care of children or the elderly could seek help from the Social Welfare Department, which could refer their requests to non-government organisations.
He said possible services included temporary care for the elderly and day care or after-school care for children.
Law said the government would maintain close contact with the Philippine authorities on the issue and that the arrangement would not affect Filipino workers who need to renew their work contracts.
The labour department said they were notified by the Philippine authorities that foreign domestic workers whose work visas issued on or before November 11 would not be affected by the latest arrangement.
Jalilo Dela Torre, labour attaché at the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong, said they hoped to provide clarity after learning of many employers’ concerns.