Information on Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs) policies undertaken by the HKSAR government since 2018

要求成功

Dear Labour and Welfare Bureau,

I would like to receive some information on the policy steps taken to improve the lives of both FDHs and their employers since 2018. If these questions cannot be answered within the Labour and Welfare Bureau, I would like to ask you if they can be transferred to the right organization.

1. What specific steps have been taken to increase the minimum wage for Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs)? Are there any plans to further raise the minimum wage in the future?
2. How does the government monitor the implementation of the standard contract and address any potential violations by employers? Are there any plans to strengthen enforcement measures?
3. How has the government ensured that employers comply with the obligation to provide FDHs with a mandatory weekly rest day? Are there any penalties for non-compliance?
4. How does the government address the issue of job hopping among Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs)? Are there any measures in place to discourage frequent job changes and promote job stability for FDHs?
5. What kind of training programs are provided to FDHs before they start working? Are there any specific training requirements or certifications that employers must provide to ensure that FDHs are adequately prepared for their roles?
6. Are there any initiatives or programs in place to provide continuous training and skills development for FDHs during their employment? How does the government support their professional growth and career advancement opportunities?
8. How effective have the measures implemented by the government been in identifying and supporting trafficked individuals? What steps are being taken to improve the identification process and support services for trafficking victims?
9. How does the government address the concerns that some FDHs may be too afraid to approach government officials? Are there any confidential reporting mechanisms in place?
10. What specific efforts have been made to educate FDHs about their rights? Are there any plans to expand or improve the existing information sessions, workshops, and training programs?
11. How widely available is the comprehensive handbook developed for FDHs? What measures are being taken to ensure that FDHs have access to this information and are aware of their rights?
12. Besides the mentioned measures, are there any other relevant policies or initiatives that have been enacted since 2018 with regards to FDHs? Additionally, are there any new initiatives or policies planned for the future to further improve the conditions and well-being of FDHs?

Please note that the responses to these questions will need to be provided individually.

Yours faithfully,
David Wilson

謝謝閣下的電子郵件。如有需要,我們會盡快作出適當跟進。 如欲查詢有關「2022
年保就業」計劃的事宜,你可直接 電郵至 : [email address] 或 致電查詢熱
線: 1836 122 (星期一至星期五,上午9時至下午6時) 如欲查詢有關「臨時失業支
援」計劃的事宜,你可直接 電郵至 : [email address] 或 致電查詢熱線:
1836 128 (星期一至星期五,上午9時至下午6時) 勞工及福利局 (此為電腦自動發出
的訊息。) Thank you for your e-mail message. We shall take follow-up
action, where appropriate, as soon as possible. For enquiries relating to
the 2022 Employment Support Scheme, please contact directly by Email:
[email address] or by Customer Service Hotline: 1836 122 (Monday to
Friday, 9 am to 6 pm) For enquiries relating to the Temporary Unemployment
Relief Scheme, please contact directly by Email: [email address] or by
Customer Service Hotline: 1836 128 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm) Labour
and Welfare Bureau (This is generated by an auto-reply programme.)

LWB ENQ/LWB, 勞工處

Dear Mr Wilson,

 

Thank you for your email.  Our bureau received your application for Access
to Information dated 19 May 2023.   The information you requested are
under the possession of Labour Department.  Please let us know if you
censent to transfer the request to Labour Department for follow up.

 

Best Regards,

Mark CHEN

Access to Information Officer

Labour and Welfare Bureau

顯示引用部分

Dear LWB ENQ/LWB,

Thank you for your reply. I hereby consent to transfer the request to the Labour Department for a follow up.

Yours sincerely,

David Wilson

謝謝閣下的電子郵件。如有需要,我們會盡快作出適當跟進。 如欲查詢有關「2022
年保就業」計劃的事宜,你可直接 電郵至 : [email address] 或 致電查詢熱
線: 1836 122 (星期一至星期五,上午9時至下午6時) 如欲查詢有關「臨時失業支
援」計劃的事宜,你可直接 電郵至 : [email address] 或 致電查詢熱線:
1836 128 (星期一至星期五,上午9時至下午6時) 勞工及福利局 (此為電腦自動發出
的訊息。) Thank you for your e-mail message. We shall take follow-up
action, where appropriate, as soon as possible. For enquiries relating to
the 2022 Employment Support Scheme, please contact directly by Email:
[email address] or by Customer Service Hotline: 1836 122 (Monday to
Friday, 9 am to 6 pm) For enquiries relating to the Temporary Unemployment
Relief Scheme, please contact directly by Email: [email address] or by
Customer Service Hotline: 1836 128 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm) Labour
and Welfare Bureau (This is generated by an auto-reply programme.)

LWB ENQ/LWB, 勞工處

Dear Mr Wilson,

 

Thank you for your email.  We have forwarded your request to Labour
Department for handling. 

 

Best Regards,

Access to Information Officer      

Labour and Welfare Bureau

 

顯示引用部分

1個附件

Dear Mr Wilson,

The Labour and Welfare Bureau referred your request for information to
this department on 5 June 2023.  Your request is now under processing.  We
will provide you with a reply in due course.

Yours sincerely,
(Ms Agnes LAM)
for Commissioner for Labour

1個附件

Dear Mr Wilson,
Thank you for your email on 19 May 2023 to the Labour and Welfare Bureau
which has been referred to the Labour Department (LD) for follow-up.
 Further to our acknowledgement on 6 June 2023 and having consulted the
Immigration Department (ImmD) and the Social Welfare Department, our
consolidated reply is as follows.

Question 1
The Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW) is the wage protection offered to foreign
domestic helpers (FDHs).  Employers must pay FDHs a salary that is not
less than the prevailing MAW at the time of signing the employment
contract.  The Government conducts regular review of the levels of MAW
based on an established mechanism whereby Hong Kong's general economic and
labour market conditions, as well as Hong Kong's near-term economic
outlook would be carefully considered.  Employers' affordability and
livelihood of FDHs would also be taken into account during the process.

Question 2
FDHs enjoy the same employment rights and protection as local workers
under Hong Kong laws.  In addition, FDHs are protected by a
government-prescribed Standard Employment Contract (SEC) which sets out
the basic employment benefits that employers must provide to FDHs,
including MAW, free accommodation at the employer’s residence, free food
(or food allowance in lieu), free medical treatment, free passage from and
to their place of origin, etc.  Apart from contractual obligations,
employers are required to give an undertaking to the Government when
making an application to ImmD for the employment of an FDH.  If an
employer has breached the SEC or the undertaking given to the Government,
or has been convicted of any offences under labour/immigration laws or
relating to assault or harassment of an FDH, his/her future application
for employing an FDH may be refused.

Same as local employees, FDHs enjoy free access to the full range of
services provided by LD.  FDHs who suspect their statutory or contractual
employment benefits being infringed can seek free consultation service
from LD’s Labour Relations Division branch offices.  For all employment
claims filed by FDHs, LD will render free conciliation service with a view
to assisting both the FDH and the employer to resolve the dispute as soon
as practicable.

Apart from assisting the concerned FDHs to pursue their civil claims, any
violation of the Employment Ordinance (EO) by unscrupulous employers such
as non-payment/under-payment of wages, non-granting of rest days and
statutory holidays, etc. will be prosecuted when there is sufficient
evidence.  We have been encouraging FDHs who feel aggrieved to report
their cases to the authorities for prompt follow-up actions.

We will also render assistance to FDHs being abused or exploited and will
refer such cases to relevant government departments such as ImmD or the
Police for follow-up and investigation.

Question 3
Under the EO, FDHs, like other employees, are entitled to at least one
rest day, i.e. a continuous period of not less than 24 hours, in every
period of seven days, in addition to the statutory holidays and paid
annual leave granted under the EO.  An employer who without reasonable
excuse fails to grant rest days to his employees or who compels his
employees to work on their rest days would be liable to prosecution and,
upon conviction, to a fine of $50,000.

Apart from briefing for FDHs, LD also holds regular employment briefings
for employers and produces various publications and publicity materials on
their obligations which are available on the FDH Portal
([1]www.fdh.labour.gov.hk) for public access.  

As mentioned in our reply to Question 2 above, FDHs whose employment
rights are infringed may approach LD for free consultation and
conciliation services.  LD rigorously enforces the EO to tackle against
offences under the labour laws.  Prosecution action will be taken where
there is sufficient evidence of a breach.

Question 4
The Government fully respects the rights of FDHs.  As set out in the EO
and SEC, FDHs may terminate contract by giving one month’s notice or one
month’s wages in lieu of notice.  Under ImmD’s prevailing policy, FDHs
shall leave Hong Kong upon completion of employment contract or within two
weeks from the date of contract termination, whichever is the earlier.
 Save for the exceptional circumstances such as premature termination of
contract owing to the transfer, migration, death or financial reasons of
the original employer, or where there is evidence that the FDH has been
abused or exploited, an application from an FDH for change of employer in
Hong Kong within the two-year contract period will normally not be
approved.  An FDH who wishes to have a new employer must leave Hong Kong
and submit a fresh employment visa application to ImmD.  

With the effect of the COVID-19 epidemic, the number of FDHs fell from
nearly 400,000 before the epidemic to less than 330,000 at one point.  The
issue of “job-hopping” has thus been the concern of Hong Kong society.
 FDH employers have to pay a colossal sum to hire an FDH from overseas.
 Not only do employers need to find a replacement if an FDH job-hops soon
after commencing employment, but they also have to make ad hoc
arrangements for taking care of their children and elderly family members.
 ImmD set up a special duties team in 2013 to investigate suspicious
“job-hopping” cases when vetting visa applications by FDHs.  Case officers
will holistically consider a host of factors, such as the conduct of the
FDHs, records of the FDHs and their former employers, and the reasons for
premature termination of the employment contract.  To understand such
reasons, case officers will also contact the former employers and the
applicants as necessary in light of individual case circumstances.   In
respect of FDHs suspected of job-hopping, ImmD will refuse their visa
applications and ask them to leave Hong Kong.  ImmD will keep their
application records and take them into account when vetting future
applications from the FDHs concerned for employment visa or extension of
stay.

Question 5
FDHs who possess two-year relevant domestic work experience and meet the
normal immigration requirements may apply to work in Hong Kong.  Some
FDH-sending countries would arrange or require their nationals who wish to
work as an FDH in Hong Kong to attend pre-employment training or pass a
skills assessment and that some FDHs would pay for themselves to attend
training courses to enhance their skills level if they find it necessary.
 Employers may request FDHs to produce relevant documentary proof of their
qualifications.  Some employment agencies (EAs) will also provide training
courses to FDHs to cope with their routine work.
Domestic duties, including household chores, cooking, looking after aged
persons in the household, baby-sitting, child-minding, etc., are sundry in
types and may vary from family to family.  We encourage employers to allow
sufficient time for the FDHs to adapt to the family environment so that
the FDHs can get on with their work smoothly.

Question 6
The Government recognises that with the ageing population in Hong Kong, an
increasing number of FDHs are asked to assist in taking care of the
elderly.  The Social Welfare Department has implemented a Pilot Scheme on
Training for Foreign Domestic Helpers in Elderly Care, with a view to
strengthening the training for FDHs with basic knowledge and skills in
taking care of frail elderly persons.  The two-phased Pilot Scheme which
ran from March 2018 to September 2021 and from October 2021 to September
2023 each provided over 1 200 training places for FDHs.

Question 8
The Government has promulgated the “Action Plan to Tackle Trafficking in
Persons and to Enhance Protection of FDHs in Hong Kong” to tackle
trafficking in persons and to enhance the protection for FDHs through a
multi-pronged approach.  For more details on the action plan, victim
identification and protection for trafficking in persons victims, please
refer to the Security Bureau’s website
([2]www.sb.gov.hk/eng/special/bound/iimm.html).

To enhance the protection for FDHs, various measures have been put in
place by LD in the past few years, including–

(a)        a dedicated 24-hour hotline (2157 9537) was launched in
December 2018 to provide one-stop support to FDHs, including offering
advice on employment rights and obligations and tackling enquiries and
complaints.  Apart from Cantonese, Putonghua and English, interpretation
service for 11 FDH languages is provided;

(b)        a dedicated Foreign Domestic Helpers Division was established
in LD in September 2020 to ensure effective coordination and
implementation of policies and measures to enhance the protection for FDHs
and to provide better support to FDHs and their employers;

(c)        the maximum penalty for the offences of overcharging and
unlicensed operation by EAs has been raised from HK$50,000 to HK$350,000
and imprisonment for three years (For more details, please refer to our
response to Q12); and

(d)        an initial screening mechanism at LD’s Labour Relations
Division branch offices was introduced since December 2019 for early
identification of FDHs potentially being exploited or abused, so that
those possibly facing greater danger could be referred to law enforcement
authorities for investigation as soon as possible.

The Government does not tolerate any exploitation or abuse of FDHs and any
violation of the lawful rights of FDHs, including rights under the labour
and immigration laws, will be prosecuted.  FDHs who have been ill-treated
by employers or EAs, physically abused or whose personal safety is at risk
should report to the Police/law enforcement authorities promptly.

Question 9
FDHs who have been ill-treated by employers or EAs are encouraged to
report to LD and/or law enforcement authorities promptly so that
appropriate support and assistance can be provided to them.  They can
always approach LD’s Labour Relations Division branch offices or call our
dedicated hotline for FDHs at 2157 9537.  LD will keep confidential the
particulars of FDHs and their case details.  Such information will not be
disclosed to other parties unless FDHs’ consents have been sought or the
disclosure of information is exempted from the provisions of data
protection principles under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.  

Question 10
LD has all along been enhancing FDHs’ awareness of their rights and
benefits, and channels for seeking assistance through a series of
publicity and education work.  We have produced practical guides and
handbooks in English and a number of FDHs’ native languages to explain the
rights and obligations of FDHs and introduce LD’s services and support
channels.  LD also stages information kiosks at popular gathering places
of FDHs during weekends, distributes information packs to FDHs, places
relevant advertisements in local Filipino and Indonesian newspapers.  As
mentioned in our response to Q8, a dedicated 24-hour FDH hotline, a
dedicated email account and an online form on the dedicated FDH Portal
with 12 language versions available have been set up to provide one-stop
support services to FDHs and to facilitate them to send in enquiries or
complaints relating to employment matters.  LD also organises employment
briefings and seminars for FDHs and employers (particularly newly-arrived
FDHs and first-time employers) in their native languages to answer their
enquiries on the spot and to brief them on useful topics such as work
safety, mental health, etc.

Question 11
LD produces handbook, practical guides, promotional leaflets and posters
in a number of FDHs’ native languages, and widely distributes these
publications to FDHs at the airport, consulates-general of FDHs’ home
countries in Hong Kong, branch offices of Labour Relations Division of LD
and various government departments, non-governmental organisations, EAs in
Hong Kong, LD’s roving exhibitions, briefings and information kiosks.  On
top of the distribution of publications and handbook, FDHs can easily
access the latest FDH-related information on our FDH Portal.  Furthermore,
LD and ImmD maintain close contact with the consulates-general of FDHs’
home countries to discuss matters requiring mutual attention concerning
FDHs and coordinate promotional efforts.

Question 12
LD safeguards FDHs’ rights through multi-pronged strategies of publicity,
provision of supporting measures as well as enforcement.  To better
protect the interests of job-seekers (including FDHs) and employers
engaging the service of EAs, the following amendments were made to the EO
which have been effective since 2018:

(a)        substantially increased the maximum penalties on EAs
overcharging job-seekers or operating without a licence from a fine of
HK$50,000 to a fine of HK$350,000 and imprisonment for three years;

(b)        widened the scope of the overcharging offence to include (in
addition to the licensee) the management as well as persons employed by
EAs;
(c)        extended the statutory time limit for prosecution of the
offences of overcharging and unlicensed operation from six to 12 months;
(d)        gave legal status to the Code of Practice for EAs (CoP) which
was promulgated in 2017, such that non-compliance with the CoP would be a
ground upon which the Commissioner for Labour (the Commissioner) may
refuse to issue/renew or revoke EA licences; and
(e)        introduced new grounds for the Commissioner to refuse to
issue/renew or revoke EA licences (e.g., the Commissioner may refuse to
issue/renew or revoke EA licences even if the overcharging offence is
committed by the management or persons employed by EAs and not the
licensee).

In response to the community’s major concerns in recent years over the
services of EAs, after reviewing the implementation of CoP, preliminary
proposals have been put forth by LD to further improve the relevant
requirements.  The major proposals include, among others, requiring EAs to
provide information on whether they have association with and are sharing
the same premises with any financial institutions, so as to prevent EAs
from colluding with financial institutions to arrange FDHs to take out
loans.  We also propose to prohibit the public display of personal data of
FDH job seekers to enhance protection to their privacy.  LD will revise
the CoP upon completion of the review.

The Government will continue to strengthen the support and protection for
FDHs and review our FDH policy as and when necessary with a view to
maintaining Hong Kong as an attractive place for them to work.

Thank you again for your email.  We hope the information above will be of
use to you.

Yours sincerely,
(Ms Agnes LAM)
for Commissioner for Labour

From:        FDH-ENQUIRY/LABOUR/HKSARG
To:        David Wilson <[email address]>
Date:        06/06/2023 06:28 PM
Subject:        Re: Freedom of Information request - Information on
Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs) policies undertaken by the HKSAR
government since 2018

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Dear Mr Wilson,

The Labour and Welfare Bureau referred your request for information to
this department on 5 June 2023.  Your request is now under processing.  We
will provide you with a reply in due course.

Yours sincerely,
(Ms Agnes LAM)
for Commissioner for Labour

References

Visible links
1. http://www.fdh.labour.gov.hk/
2. https://www.sb.gov.hk/eng/special/bound/...