The entire world is under the attack of Coronavirus. Eyeing the danger and the fewer number of employees present in the offices, Philippine Overseas Labor Office has made some temporary changes in the services of domestic helpers. The changes will affect the processing of visas of the domestic helpers. In the normal course, the finished contract workers and special case contract workers and their employers can proceed without an employment agency but as some services are suspended, an employment agency will be involved in the process.
The following services will be temporarily suspended until further notice at Philippine Consulate General, Hong Kong-
- Notarization of the employment contract for first time domestic helpers.
- Notarization of the contract renewal with existing employers.
- Conciliation meeting between domestic helpers and their employers
- Assistance in BM online processing of OEC.
All the domestic helpers who are changing employers are compulsorily required to go through an employment agency. This condition applies to all irrespective of the contract status (except for renewal). Those who could process on their own, those with finished contracts, those with termination due to special cases like, death of employer, relocation of the employer, financial difficulties of the employer, etc, also required to use an employment agency for the processing of their visas.
The above changes are applicable from 23 March 2020 until further notice.
Temporary Change for Employers
A domestic helper mandatorily needs to go through an employment agency for processing of the contracts and visas regardless of their contract status. If you are an employer and have found a worker on your own via referrals or any online platform for domestic helpers, you will require using an employment agency for the processing of visas.
It is important to note here that, employers must check what costs they are incurring (based on our experience cost vary from HK$2,500 to HK$6,000) and whether domestic helpers will also be charged (for helper maximum charge is 10% of the first month salary of the domestic helper, some agency are offering this service for free). During these crucial times, many employment agencies are benefitting from charging extra costs from employers and domestic helpers. So, stay alert and read about the complete costs here. Do not hesitate to contact us by email or call us 3468-8262.
Temporary Change for Contract Renewals
As the change has not impacted the contract renewals thus the contract renewal process will continue. The contract renewal applications, without any notarization, can be submitted to the Hong Kong Immigration Department. The application for OWWA membership of domestic helpers can also be applied at another date.
I was able to process it on my own, but now I cannot. What can I do now?
Earlier, as a lot of domestic helpers could be hired without any interference from any agency, both the domestic helpers and the employers were free of any obligation to pay any fee to these agencies. In these crucial times, these changes are impacting the domestic helpers adversely. Keep in mind that some employment agencies are charging exploitative fees from these domestic helpers which they are compelled to pay. Even the employers who need not pay any amount earlier are forced to pay the fees.
One more important thing that you need to know is that when an agency is involved, the agency is held responsible for the contracts. There have been no changes in this regulation. It means that they are not only held responsible for the paperwork involved but also the welfare of the helper. During 2-years contract, it is the responsibility of the agency to ensure that domestic helpers are not facing any issues in their employment.
For domestic helpers, it is essential to find an employment agency who gets in touch with you every now and then. For employers, it is essential to find an employment agency who completes all the paperwork in no time and provides valuable services. Beware of the agencies who charge additionally to cover the extra costs.
First Time Domestic Helper Hiring
This service is not available right now as POLO must notarize the employment contract which is an important document required at Hong Kong Immigration Department.
Employers and Domestic Helpers
These are tough times and posing new challenges for everyone. You need an employment agency who can provide you additional support at this time. These are the times when a strong work relationship can help all. Employers and domestic helpers are required to come together and help each other in fighting the disease by following the general guidelines and keeping distance from the rumors. The use of protective materials can also help in many ways.
Choosing The Right Employment Agency
These orders and suspensions have increased the importance of employment agencies. Some agencies are using it as an opportunity to make money rather than helping their fellow countrymen. So, when you are choosing an employment agency for any kind of services, please keep in mind the essential factors, double-check the fees they are charging and the conditions of the contract.
Stay Indoors, Stay Safe, Keep Social Distancing.