Domestic workers enjoy their day off in Hong Kong's Central district. Photo: Facebook
Domestic workers enjoy their day off in Hong Kong's Central district. Photo: Facebook

The Hong Kong government has indicated it plans no further clampdowns on “job-hopping,” or premature contract terminations, by domestic workers to change their employers.

The government said there were enough measures already in place to prevent such irregularities.

The city’s Secretary for Labour and Welfare made the remarks when asked by legislators during a Q&A session.

The labor secretary said that since 2013, the Immigration Department had scrutinized the approval of visa applications from those who changed their employers frequently, adding that figures showed that such practices were “not prevalent.”

“From June 2013 to end-October 2018, the Immigration Department received around 544,000 employment visa applications from domestic workers in the city, of which 11,077 were subject to additional investigation, representing a mere 2% of the total,” the secretary said.

“Among the 11,077 cases that did require further vetting by the government, a majority involved justifiable circumstances ranging from migration, death or financial changes of ex-employers, or where there was sufficient evidence suggesting a helper had been abused or exploited.

“In total, 1,817 applications out of the 11,077 cases were rejected, while 658 cases could not be processed further,” added the secretary.

These measures have long been in place and are generally effective, according to the secretary. Hong Kong’s Immigration Department has been keeping close tabs on any abuse of the arrangement to allow terminations of contracts before their expiry date.

The department said it had boosted manpower to vet and investigate cases and issued clear guidelines to its officers, including contacting helpers suspected of job-hopping as well as their former employers when processing such applications.

Meanwhile, the city’s Labor Department has reminded employers to purchase air tickets for their helpers instead of providing them with a cash equivalent to the airfare to minimize the chance of them overstaying in the city or not returning to their countries of origin.

Previously, the government turned down a proposal to introduce a probationary period in which both employers and helpers would be able to terminate contracts.

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