Domestic workers may not have the complete skill set to care for sick elders. Photo: Asia Times

The licensee of an employment agency in Tai Po in the New Territories was convicted of overcharging three domestic workers and fined HK$15,000 (US$1,918) in Sha Tin Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The Court also ordered the agency to refund the excessive placement fees – totaling $2,638 – it charged the three domestic workers.

In September 2017, the Labour Department’s Employment Agencies Administration received a complaint from the three workers about Familia Employment Agency in Tai Po. They said the firm charged an excessive commission, according to a government release.

The Labour Department later decided to prosecute the agency, as the workers agreed to assist an investigation, and they had gathered sufficient evidence.

Familia is the second employment agency convicted of overcharging this year.

The first one was Quality Consultants Agency in Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui, which was convicted of overcharging a domestic worker it helped to look for a job overseas.

Under the law, an employment agency is not allowed to collect any fees or charges from job seekers other than the prescribed commission, which is set at no more than 10% of the latter’s salary in the first month once a job has been found for them.

Meanwhile, the chief secretary for administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung wrote on his official blog that Wednesday will be an important milestone for the passage of the Employment (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017 to strengthen the regulation of employment agencies and enhance protection for domestic workers.

The legislative proposals under the Bill seek to increase the maximum penalties, from a maximum fine of HK$50,000 to HK$350,000 and up to three years in jail for overcharging job-seekers.

The government also proposed widening the scope of the offense of overcharging domestic workers to the associates of a licensee, such as managers and staff in employment agencies.

Read: Employment agency fined, told to repay overcharged maids

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