Pinoy DH population dips in December

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Domestic workers in Central. (FILE PHOTO)

The number of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong has slightly gone down in December, but the head of a recruitment agency union in the city expects significant changes to population figures by the end of January.

Immigration Department data showed there were 207,402 Filipinos in the city by the end of 2020. This is 1,275 lower than November’s figures.

The total foreign domestic worker population in the city went down to 373,884 last month, as the city saw 2,104 fewer workers.

But Thomas Chan, chairperson of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, said he predicts a “big, sharp difference” in these numbers at the end of month.

Chan cited the Christmas and New Year holiday practices among Filipinos may ground them in either Hong Kong or the Philippines.

But the agency union head also said the 21-day quarantine period and the new policy on prematurely terminated workers applying for an extension of stay will affect the figures.

“Some employers called the agency to postpone deployment of their workers or even shift the target to local market,” Chan told Hong Kong News Tuesday.

Hong Kong earlier announced a policy shift in accepting extension of limit of stay as visitor applications from terminated domestic workers. The government said it would only grant these extensions under “exceptional circumstances,” and workers who do not get this extension must immediately leave the city.

But Chan said this policy may backfire on employers, as he estimated that those who finished their contracts with previous employers only account for 30 to 40 percent of available local hires. He said this limits the number of domestic workers in employers’ hiring pool.

“If the government really drives all home, then the price for ‘finished contract’ goes higher and this creates another opportunity for workers [to] choose “the good employer” or asking for a better term of employment,” Chan said.