Labatt tells Pinoy helpers to deal only with EAs with POLO certificates
PHILIPPINE Labor officials began awarding certificates to accredited employment agencies in Hong Kong as a way to discourage Filipino domestic workers from dealing with sub-agents.
The Philippine Overseas Labor Office has prepared certificates for its 359 accredited employment agencies and began distributing the certificates on Sept. 18.
“We are awarding these certificates to make sure that Filipino workers know which ones are accredited or not. Now there’s a physical proof that they can see when they walk into the offices of these agencies,” Dela Torre said.
He said those agencies that do not have these certificates may be licensed by the Hong Kong government, but those are not accredited by the POLO.
“They should avoid the agencies that do not have a certificate, because most of the problems with agencies are from the sub-agents because they can hide behind the cloak of anonymity,” he said.
A 2016 report of the Hong Kong Labour Department said overcharging remained the top complaint against employment agencies that supply foreign domestic helpers.
The LD said there were 120 complaints filed in 2013 against agencies for overcharging FDHs, 114 in 2014, and 102 last year.
The second biggest complaint was operating without a license. There were 43 complaints of unlicensed operation against agencies in 2013, eight the following year, and 32 in 2015.
The other complaints were related to the quality of the services provided by the agencies, services fees, and the replacement of FDHs.
Owners of employment agencies who were awarded with certificates, meanwhile, said problems between domestic helpers and their employers could be resolved thru better communication.
“Actually, there’s a difference in culture between Hong Kong people and the Filipino people. Here in Hong Kong, the house sizes are very small and interaction is easy among those in the household to interact with each other.
“Hong Kong people are very busy, and they have high expectations, but sometimes they can’t express what they want specifically and that’s the problem, and because of this, I think communication is important,” said Joey Chung, whose husband owns the Mongkok-based employment agency.
She added that if a helper thinks the employer is not giving them sufficient and suitable food, they should inform the employer about it.
Meanwhile, Kitman Cheung, who owns seven employment agencies in Hong Kong that were also given accreditation certificates of POLO, said employers could give higher salary than the present minimum allowable wage of $4, 310 to their domestic helpers.
“I think $4,310 is low in the market, that’s why we have some job orders whose offers are a minimum of $5,000. This is why I think they still have room to increase [the wage],” he said.
He added that even the Hong Kong government has said that as the Hong Kong population is aging, it would need more people to care for the elderly.
Migrant domestic workers have asked the LD to increase the MAW to $5,500 and their food allowance t0 $2,500 from the present $1,037.
The LD is expected to issue its decision on the petition anytime now.
Meanwhile, Dela Torre said the POLO is set to release a mobile app to document the journey of overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong.
He said the app, to be developed by the same developer for the online portal of banned employers, will help Philippine officials craft better policy for the deployment and eventual reintegration of Filipino workers.
“The app would be updated by the workers themselves, and from there, we will get a better picture of how their journey here in Hong Kong unfolds,” he said.
Dela Torre added that the app will help them collate a more comprehensive data of Filipino workers in the city.