As the influx of migrant workers remain at a steady pace in Hong Kong, many employment agencies benefit from the system, which allows them to handle the processing of documents of these foreign nationals.
However, what happens away from the public’s eye is mostly dictated by these firms, whether they acknowledge the law or not. Unfortunately, there are still considerable cases wherein migrant workers fall in the hands of opportunistic agencies locally or abroad. These come in the form of overcharging with (placement) fees and other illegal/unnecessary costs.
Employment Agency Associate Sentenced for Overcharging Domestic Helper
In line with this, the Labour Department (LD) crackdown on employment agencies overcharging foreign domestic helpers has caught another violator of the law, which restricts the placement fee to one-tenth of their first month’s salary, as shared in a report by the Sun HK.
An associate of Philip-Indonesian Helpers Employment Limited, which had earlier been convicted for overcharging, was also found guilty of the same offense and was slapped with a fine of HK $8,000 at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on June 28.
This puts a close on the case, which started in October 2018 when the Employment Agencies Administration (EAA) of the Labour Department (LD) started receiving complaints from nine domestic helpers claiming that Philip-Indonesian Helpers Employment Limited, located in North Point, overcharged them with commission.
Authorities were able to find enough evidence to incriminate Philip-Indonesian and file cases against both the licensee for overcharging the nine helpers, and an associate working for it for overcharging another one.
In effect, Philip-Indonesian Helpers Employment Limited, the licensee, was convicted at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts for overcharging the nine FDHs and was fined a total of HKD 84,000. The Court also ordered the agency to refund the excess amount, which totalled $60,297, to the helpers who were overcharged.
Despite this, the conviction of the agency’s associate came later.
In reference to Hong Kong labour law, a licensee or an associate of a licensee in respect of an EA, or a person purporting to act as such a licensee or associate, is not allowed to collect from a job seeker any fees or charges other than the prescribed commission, which is an amount not exceeding 10 per cent of the first month’s salary of the job seeker upon successful placement.
In response to this, the the LD reminded all employment agencies to operate in full compliance with the law and the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies at all times to avoid getting in conflict with the law, and to protect migrant workers from this unjust practice.