Employment agencies (EAs) play an important role not only in the recruitment and processing of visas for domestic workers, but they also carry key responsibilities from both the governments of Hong Kong and the worker’s respective country.
In particular, EAs are required by the law to inform the relevant Consulate in cases where there are immediate changes that affect a worker’s employment situation or ability to work. Of note, this is something mandated by the Philippine and Indonesian Consulates. Accordingly, both employers and workers should notify the employment agency of certain cases, which we will discuss briefly below.
Things that You Should Notify Your Employment Agency About
While we understand that not all domestic workers go through an employment agency, those who do are assured to have a guide and safety net in case any unforeseeable events happen in the future to them, which include the following:
The workers or their employers must notify the Employment Agency in case the former becomes:
- Seriously ill – Although domestic helpers in Hong Kong are offered the same benefits as residents in terms of access to public health services, domestic workers must not keep any critical information such as having a life-threatening (or even contagious) sickness which could pose a threat to their own safety as well as to their employers.
- Pregnant – This also follows the above-mentioned point. Though different in nature, the consequences and likelihood of complications are something which both the pregnant worker and their employer must have adequate knowledge of so that proper maternity care may be provided.
- Deceased – For obvious reasons, the employer, in this case, must immediately inform the worker’s respective employment agency or Consulate (for direct hires) so that repatriation and proper burial may be provided to the worker.
- A missing person – As opposed to what we see on TV or in the movies, reporting a missing person case for a domestic helper when there’s no viable reason for them to be away (especially during work hours) is acceptable as this may be further verified as absconding or simply running away – which, is also considered illegal in most countries hiring domestic workers such as Hong Kong.
- Is traveling overseas – Along with other acceptable reasons such as vacation or medical treatment, any form of travel outside of Hong Kong must be reported by the domestic worker or their employer prior to their trip.
- Involved in any legal cases – If this is something difficult to bring up with your employer, it’s best to seek help from your agency first or the Consulate so that you can proceed with the matter with as much legal support and assistance you can get.
- Terminated from work – Hong Kong follows a certain set of policies when it comes to residency and working in the country. Those whose contracts have been terminated will only be allowed to stay for a maximum of 14 days in Hong Kong unless they file for a ‘visa extension’. Otherwise, these people will be considered illegal residents.
There are two ways to look at the above-listed cases – the first would be its impact on the worker themselves, and second to their employers.
As a worker, it is important to notify your employment agency for you to access the support that you are entitled to. A core function of the Consulate is to take care of their nationals and they may have services that may be very useful to you. The Consulate can also ensure that everything is properly documented.
Meanwhile, for employers, this is also a way to protect yourself in order to avoid potential claims or inclusion into the Consulates’ Employer Watch-lists. It is highly crucial to keep relevant documentation in these situations such as medical reports, receipts, police reports, termination form, etc. If it is relevant, we would also recommend showing evidence of correspondence to show attempts of contact (e.g. SMS message record). When submitting such documents, you may also add an additional explanation letter to verify the case.