Supplementary Question on Legislative Council Meeting-Q5 & Q6

Q5 Immigration quarantine for foreign domestic helpers

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese): President, regarding the reservation arrangement, I heard the industry say in a live radio programme this morning that the demand was huge when the reservation was open every Monday onwards, but the reservation period was too short and I hoped that reservation can be made 30 days in advance. May I ask whether the Administration will extend the reservation period accordingly so that the industry will not have to “rush” to make a reservation every Monday, thereby increasing the uncertainty? SECRETARY FOR LABOUR AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): President, as … it is true that the cumulative demand in the community is huge, whether you allow 7 days, 21 days, 30 days or even 60 days in advance for reservation, the places can still be “fully reserved” immediately after reservation is open. The problem is that if there are too many rooms available for reservation on certain days―please don’t assume that it’s a hotel on a weekday and people can make reservation at any time of the day―the situation is that within half an hour, over 1 000 to 2 000 people may have already made reservation and it is impossible for the applications concerned to wait for one week before they are processed. Initial vetting and approval process should be completed within a day or two after applications are received. This is the only way to process the applications in an orderly manner. This is because the relevant parties still have a lot of work to do, including reserving air tickets, arranging transport to

Therefore, after balancing all these considerations, we consider that the method announced yesterday by opening the quota for one week at a time will allow us to complete the application process expeditiously, thus enabling them to make the relevant arrangements. It is certainly not impossible to extend the reservation period, but this will depend on our workflow and whether we can improve efficiency in the future. We cannot, for example, allow reservation to be made 30 days in advance and then hire a large group of people instantaneously to process the applications within a day or two and then these people will not need to work for the next 20 days or so. This is not the efficient use of resources. For this reason, we will keep this situation under review.

Regulation of employment agencies for placement of foreign domestic helpers

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese): President, the authorities have stated in part (3) of the main reply that LD has already strengthened its efforts in combating suspected inducement of FDH “job-hopping” by EAs, including closely monitoring the business practice of EAs. May I ask the authorities to talk briefly about the means by which they monitor these EAs? Do they send officers to pretend to be customers to visit these EAs, just like the Hong Kong Monetary Authority deploying mystery customers to inspect retail banks? Or do the authorities have other means or measures?

SECRETARY FOR LABOUR AND WELFARE (in Cantonese): President, as there are some 1 000-odd EAs of this kind, we generally adopt a risk-based approach from the regulatory perspective. Definitely, the simplest risk-based approach is taking prompt follow-up action upon receipt of a complaint. So, employers in Hong Kong should let us know as soon as possible if they face the situation in question, and we will then follow up their cases. If it is the problem of the EAs concerned, LD will, of course, ask for information and conduct investigation. In case of any substantiated irregularities involving an EA, LD may handle it directly in the way as stated in the main reply earlier. This is a fairly important task as the more cases of unlawful business practice are exposed, the more the people will imitate. For this reason, it becomes increasingly important to take quicker actions against cases of unlawful and unreasonable practices.