Migrant group protests over "unfair" job hop rules - RTHK
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Migrant group protests over "unfair" job hop rules

2023-03-20 HKT 15:14
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  • Members of the Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body stage their protest outside the Labour Department. Photo: RTHK
    Members of the Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body stage their protest outside the Labour Department. Photo: RTHK
A migrant workers' group protested on Monday outside the Labour Department against a proposal to tighten regulations that prevent foreign domestic helpers from changing employers in mid-contract, a practice known as job-hopping.

It comes ahead of the launch of an eight-week consultation on changes that the Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body (AMCB) said are both unfair and discriminatory. Under the proposal, agencies would have to tell workers that applications for a change of employer would only be approved under exceptional circumstances and would be told not to encourage job-hopping.

The group's spokesperson, Dolores Balladares, dismissed concerns about workers prematurely terminating their contracts to change employers, saying that helpers only change jobs when they “experience bad employment conditions”.

“The common mindset of the worker is to continue the work, to finish it for two years and then change the employment. Not to cut it in the middle of the employment,” she said.

Balladares explained that helpers who want to terminate the contract early often have to file a lot of documents, and may find it hard to renew their work visas.

She also argued that changing employers should not be “criminalised” and that helpers should have the right to switch, adding that both employers and helpers pay high fees to agencies.

“We believe it's our right, of any individual that if we want to look for a better working condition, if we want to have good compensation, we can look for another employer,” she said.

In a letter to labour chief Chris Sun, the group questioned why domestic workers are being treated differently than other workers in the SAR.

“Why blame us for how badly our employers treat us? What does the Labour Department not defend us?” it wrote.

Balladares said helpers feel like they're being treated as commodities, and that they are at the "losing end".

“Worker coming from other countries… They come to Hong Kong, they can change employers, [and] they can have good compensation. But why the domestic worker is not treated fairly?” she asked, suggesting the government conduct consistent communication between workers and employers' associations.

In an interview on Sunday, Sun said job-hopping complaints rose during the pandemic as few helpers were able to come to Hong Kong. He said the problem was now easing, but there was still a need for new rules, while striking a balance between the interests of employers, helpers and agencies.

Migrant group protests over "unfair" job hop rules