LOOKING FOR A LICENSED EMPLOYMENT AGENCY
Under the laws of Hong Kong, all employment agencies (EAs) are required to obtain a licence or Certificate of Exemption (CoE) from the Commissioner for Labour before undertaking any job placement business.
Before using the service of an EA, employers or job seekers should check if it holds a valid licence first. You can use the search engine provided in this website for identifying EA(s) with valid licence in Hong Kong. Please contact Employment Agencies Administration (EAA) if you have any queries.
The names of the persons and agencies to whom licences have been issued in every year are published in the Gazette. The latest issue of Gazette with the names of the persons and agencies to whom licences have been issued can be found here.
Also, according to the laws, EAs are not allowed to collect from job seekers any fees or charges other than the prescribed commission, which is set at 10 per cent of the latter’s first-month's wages upon successful placement.
If you suspect an EA is operating without a valid licence, or overcharging commission to job seekers, please report to EAA. Any person who operates an EA without a licence or CoE issued by the Commissioner for Labour or overcharging commission shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a maximum penalty of $350,000 and imprisonment for 3 years.
Notes for employers
Apart from making sure the EA has a valid licence, you are also encouraged to check the reputation of the EA, from websites, discussion groups, or word of mouth of your friends and relatives.
To protect your interests, you are advised to clarify and agree with EA the details of the service, including the coverage, itemized fees, date of reporting duty of the FDH, refund or exchange policy etc, before making any payment. Ask for a receipt after payment. The agreed terms should be written down in a service agreement signed by both parties. Should the EA failed to honour any of the agreed terms, or it is suspected of contravening the Trade Description Ordinance, you should seek assistance from the Consumer Council or the Customs and Excise Department.
Labour Department has promulgated the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies(transcript), in which the salient legislative requirements that EAs must follow, and the standards which the Commissioner for Labour expects from EAs are included. You may make reference to the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies when engaging EAs.
Notes for job-seekers
According to the law, EAs cannot charge you any fees or expenses, be it directly or indirectly, in relation to the job-placement other than the prescribed commission (which is currently set at 10% of your first-month's wages after successful placement). To protect yourselves, you should obtain a receipt from the EAs after you have paid the commission. Any job-seeker who is suspected of being overcharged by an EA should report to EAA as soon as possible.
Upon receipt of complaint against an employment agency which is suspected of contravening the Employment Ordinance, and/or the Employment Agency Regulations, EAA will follow up immediately. It may approach the complainant for an interview to obtain more details during the investigation process; or when it is decided that prosecution will be instituted against an EA for its suspected breach of law, EAA may invite the complainant to act as prosecution witness as and when necessary.
To protect the interest of job-seekers, section 56 of the Employment Ordinance stipulates that an EA shall maintain a record containing the job-seeker’s name, address, HKID (or passport number and citizenship if the job-seeker is not a Hong Kong resident), fee and commission received (if any), date of employment as well as name and address of employer. Such record shall be kept at the place of business of the EA to be made available for inspection by the Labour Department.