Migrant Workers slam HK govt’s anti-job hopping campaign

“The Hong Kong Government’s anti-job-hopping campaign targeting migrant domestic workers is in effect promoting bonded labor. Threatening migrants with possible denial of their visas and job loss will force many to endure even the most abusive and exploitative working and living condition”.

This was the reaction of Eman Villanueva, spokesperson of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB) to the proposal submitted by the Labor Department yesterday, 16 March, at the Legislative Council (LEGCO), aiming to amend the code of practice to stop the domestic workers from “job-hopping”.

The Labor Department noted the concerns of employers whose foreign domestic workers had changed jobs in the middle of the period of their employment contract.

The proposals will be discussed within the period of eight-week public consultation when lawmakers on the manpower panel will discuss the proposals that will start on Tuesday.

The paper of the Labor Department proposes revising the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies.

During the application process, the agency will explain to the domestic worker that an application for changing employers will only be accepted if there are exceptional circumstances.

If not for exceptional reasons, they will not be allowed to process the contract, but instead, the domestic worker will leave Hong Kong and submit a new visa application.

Exceptional reasons for early termination of the contract include among others the migration of the employer (leaving Hong Kong and living to another country), and if the domestic worker has been abused.

In the new policy, the new application will also be refused if there is evidence that the helper is job-hopping. Agencies must also not encourage workers to terminate their contracts prematurely in exchange for a higher salary.

“Penalizing migrant domestic workers for exercising their rights is an outright curtailment of our rights enshrined in their own employment ordinance”, Villanueava added.

The Immigration Officer said over the phone interview that they will only execute the policy by the Labor Department on how they will conduct the processing of the visa of domestic workers.