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Domestic workers in Hong Kong are at the mercy of ruthless agencies. Why do we allow it?

Written by Allan Bell, Founder and Vice President of the Centre. This piece was published in the South China Morning Post on 11 May 2017.

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Over the past three decades, the employment of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong has risen dramatically. According to the Labour Department, foreign domestic workers now number 350,000 and make up 10 per cent of Hong Kong’s workforce. Yet this has not stopped employment agencies from operating unlawfully, creating a black market in Hong Kong for domestic workers and wreaking havoc on the lives of employers.

The employment agencies know it is illegal in Hong Kong to overcharge domestic workers for placement fees. The maximum allowable fee is 10 per cent of the first month’s salary, or H$431. The Hong Kong government has acknowledged that workers are charged more than this, but claims these illegal charges occur overseas. Yet, as a team of University of Hong Kong students recently verified, o