Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital, New Taipei City. Photo: Google Maps

Employment agencies are preying on vulnerable people with family members in hospital who get help from migrant caregivers without first checking their identification documents and labor credentials, a government official has warned in New Taipei City.

Liao Wu-hui, chief of the city Labor Affairs Department, said the Labor Affairs Bureau had noted an increase in the activities of “irresponsible” middlemen, claiming to be from licensed agencies, who offered illegal carers. The bureau identified 120 cases of illegal migrant caregivers being hired between 2014 and 2018, with 20 involving patients at Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital and 19 at MacKay Memorial Hospital.

In one instance, a 74-year-old woman with the surname Lin was approached by an employment agency after her husband was admitted to hospital with an illness and then referred to a caregiver who could meet her urgent needs, the China Times reported.

The carer could speak fluent Mandarin and Lin assumed she was working legally in Taiwan. She hired the woman immediately without confirming her identification documents; however, the carer was later found to be a runaway migrant.

Lin was fined NT$150,000 (US$4,864) for violating the Employment Services Act, but she got off lightly: offenders can be fined up to NT$750,000 (US$24,325). In the past five years the city government has collected more than NT$11.525 million (US$373,000) from people violating the act.

The department said families should approach nurse stations at hospitals to register and make enquiries about employing legal caregivers. They could also double-check the credentials of carers before employing them.

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