Helpers high and dry as contracts fall apart

Local | Michael Shum 1 Apr 2020

More than 10,000 new foreign domestic worker contracts cannot be fulfilled as the influx of new helpers from the Philippines and Indonesia comes to a near complete halt, an alliance of foreign domestic worker agencies said yesterday.

The alliance called on the government to provide them with financial assistance by including them in the upcoming second round of the anti-epidemic fund.

Alliance for Foreign Domestic Workers Employment Agency organizer Sunny Wong Kwok-ip said yesterday the travel ban was to blame for stopping 90 percent of recruitment and causing the incomes of helpers to drop by 90 percent.

"The Philippines is only allowing foreigners to leave, but not locals, while cities within the country are also under lockdown. Domestic helpers cannot leave for Hong Kong to fulfill their contracts," he said.

Wong also said Manila is also allocating resources to anti-pandemic efforts, and therefore not issuing overseas employment certificates to domestic workers, which is essential for them to start work here.

"In addition, the Philippine government also stopped providing training to those wanting to work as a foreign domestic helper, while the processing of documents is also on hold," Wong said.

"People might be curious as to why we haven't just temporarily closed our business until the pandemic is over, but we can't, as we still have to provide assistance to existing employers and foreign domestic helpers who are currently under quarantine," another representative Mclean Ng Sze-kit said.

The alliance suggested the government set up a dedicated department to deal with foreign domestic helper recruitment during the pandemic and provide employment agencies with guidelines and equipment.

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