Photo: Hong Kong's Consumer Council

Hong Kong’s Consumer Council has found wide differences in the fees charged by employment agencies for hiring domestic workers.

The Council sent out questionnaires to 48 agencies with three or more branches; 33 provided information on their service charges.

The results reveal that some agencies charge a higher fee for new recruits from abroad than out-of-contract domestic workers who are already in Hong Kong.

Other agencies will charge between HK$1,000 (US$128) and HK$2,000 higher for workers with overseas experiences in places such as Singapore or Taiwan.

Charges for hiring new domestic workers from Indonesia range from HK$8,000 to HK$12,980, a difference of 62%.

For Filipina domestic workers, who account for 55% of all foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, agency charges tend to be slightly lower, ranging from HK$7,800 to HK$11,980, a 54% difference.

The biggest price discrepancy was found among the eight agencies which offer domestic helpers from Bangladesh. Charges ranged from HK$4,680 to HK$10,500, a differential of 1.2. The agencies explained that the variation relates to the standard of English spoken by candidates.

Besides service fees, the council advises employers to pay attention to other costs, including overseas agent fees, contract notarization fees, and visa or other document processing fees, before signing any agreements or contracts.