HelperChoice Survey Results – 85% of first-time domestic workers are charged illegal placement fees by the employment agencies
Following the announcement of a Bill seeking to amend the Employment Ordinance to increase sevenfold the amount of the maximum penalty for overcharging domestic workers, HelperChoice decided to contact some of them to report about their story.
The survey revealed that only 13% of the interviewed domestic helpers paid employment agencies an amount worth less than 10% of their monthly salary (the maximum that agencies in Hong Kong can legally require) and it goes down to 8% when this is the first contract of the helper. A quarter of them luckily paid no charge at all, resorting to other alternatives like online dedicated platforms, groups on social networks, word of mouth etc. But again, this part goes down to 7% when this is their first contract.
Domestic helpers who try to find a job for the first time are more vulnerable and some employment agencies take advantage of their situation to overcharge them and even force them to take very high rate loans. 24% of the interviewed domestic helpers reported that they were in this case.
Despite those illegal practices, only a third of the domestic helpers ever planned to sue the agency that overcharged them. The reasons for this are many: the fear not to be supported by their employer, the feeling that it won’t change anything, that they could lose their job, etc. So many reasons that make the role of the employer so important: they need to be aware of those practices and have a united front with the worker to change the way it works.