According to a government paper, as at end-January 2014, there were about 323 400 foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong. Among them, the numbers of Philippine and Indonesian FDHs were about 166 200 and 149 700 respectively, accounting for over 95 per cent of FDHs in total. It has been reported that in the light of the continuously rising demand for domestic labour as a result of the improving economies, the Philippine and Indonesian Governments will stop the export of domestic helpers (DHs) by 2017 and within five years respectively. In connection with the supply of and demand for DHs in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has studied the short-term or long-term impacts, of the cessation of export of DHs from the Philippines and Indonesia to Hong Kong, on Hong Kong in areas such as the economy, labour and family; whether the authorities have projected the demand of Hong Kong households for FDHs in the next decade, and whether the supply of FDHs can meet the demand;
(2) of the measures that the authorities will implement in the coming year to encourage local employers to employ FDHs from other countries in order to reduce the dependence of Hong Kong on Philippine and Indonesian DHs; whether the authorities will allocate more resources to provide economic incentives (such as providing subsidies for intermediaries to train FDHs) to encourage intermediaries to enhance the training for FDHs of other nationalities so as to enhance their capabilities at work, thereby increasing the confidence of local employers in employing them; and
(3) whether the authorities have assessed the effectiveness of the measures currently adopted to encourage employers to employ local domestic helpers (LDHs); if they have, of the assessment results; whether they have assessed if Hong Kong has been over-dependent on FDHs in recent years; if the assessment result is in the affirmative, whether the authorities will consider enhancing the relevant measures (such as allocating more resources to enhance LDHs’ capabilities at work) and making more active efforts to encourage local grass-roots workers (especially female new arrivals) to join the domestic helper industry so as to increase the manpower supply?
(1) The Government has not commissioned any study on the actual demand for and supply of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in the next decade.
(2) Owing to immigration control and security considerations, the current entry arrangement for FDHs does not apply to Chinese residents of the Mainland, Macau Special Administrative Region and Taiwan, as well as nationals of Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Laos, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nepal and Vietnam. Save from the above, the Government has not imposed any restrictions on, nor will it promote the employment of FDHs of, any particular nationalities. Employers may, having regard to individual requirements, decide to hire FDHs from any countries and regions other than those specified above.
(3) The Government’s established policy on labour is to ensure that local workers will have priority in employment. Importation of labour will be allowed in a restrictive manner only when there is shortage of local workers in certain specific sectors or trades. Since very few local workers have been willing to take up live-in and full-time domestic jobs for a long period of time, there has been an acute and long-standing shortage of labour in this trade, failing to meet the demand of local employers. The Government has thus allowed the importation of full-time live-in domestic workers according to the above-mentioned policy.
To promote the engagement of local non-live-in domestic services, the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) provides courses for the domestic services industry to eligible local residents (including new arrivals). In 2015-16, ERB plans to provide over 3 200 training places for courses relevant to the domestic services industry. It will adjust the number of training places for these courses in the light of changing circumstances. With a view to enhancing the employment opportunities of graduates, the “Smart Living” scheme of ERB provides free-of-charge, one-stop referral services for graduates of relevant courses and domestic employers, which cover vacancies on domestic work (cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc.), healthcare (healthcare massage) and personal care (elderly and patient care, escort services for medical attendance, etc.). In the past three years, an annual average of 47 000 vacancies was registered with the “Smart Living” scheme. Around 30 000 vacancies were successfully filled by graduates. ERB will continue to improve the services and step up its promotional efforts.
The Labour Department (LD) also provides a comprehensive range of employment services free of charge for job seekers (including new arrivals). As some job seekers may wish to find local domestic helper work, LD has set up a dedicated webpage for local domestic helpers under the Interactive Employment Service website to facilitate their access to employment information and search for vacancies in this respect.