Labour Department Reminds Foreign Domestic Helpers To Take Note Of Compulsory Testing Notices And Comply With Social Distancing Measures
The Labour Department (LD) today (January 14) reminded foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to take note of and comply with the compulsory testing notices (CTN) to undergo free COVID-19 testing on time, and appealed to them to comply with social distancing measures announced by the Government.
An LD spokesman said, "According to the CTNs issued by the Government, any persons who had been present at specified places during specified date(s) and time period(s) should undergo the multiple tests on time as required. The above compulsory testing requirement also applies to those who have completed a COVID-19 vaccination course. The LD has disseminated the latest information to FDHs through various channels, including Consulates-General of FDH-sending countries in Hong Kong, FDH and employer groups, employment agency associations, etc. The LD calls on employers to remind FDHs who had been present at specified places during specified date(s) and time period(s) to undergo testing. FDHs can undergo the tests at community testing centres or mobile specimen collection stations. Details of compulsory testing matters can be found at the Government's thematic webpage (www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/early-testing.html). Persons may also click here for the CTNs."
The Government will strictly enforce CTNs. Any person who fails to comply with a CTN commits an offence and may be fined a fixed penalty of $5,000. The person will also be issued with a compulsory testing order requiring him or her to undergo testing within a specified time frame. Failure to comply with the order would be liable to a fine at level 4 ($25,000) and imprisonment for six months.
The spokesman continued, "According to the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) and the Prevention and Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) Regulation (Cap. 599I), a person who participates in a prohibited group gathering of more than four persons in public places or fails to wear a mask in accordance with the requirement may be charged a fixed penalty of $5,000. On January 15 and 16, the LD will, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Police Force, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the Home Affairs Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, conduct mobile broadcasts in multiple languages at popular FDH gathering places, including Central, Tamar Park in Admiralty, Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, Tsuen Wan Park, the footbridge near Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok, etc, to call upon FDHs to comply with the relevant requirements. Relevant departments will take enforcement action against those who still refuse to abide by the regulations after repeated reminders.
"We remind FDHs to strictly observe the requirements and appeal to them to avoid gatherings (including those in boarding facilities), food sharing and other social activities on their rest days and holidays, and stay at home for rest as far as possible in order to safeguard their personal health and reduce the risk of infection. We also encourage employers and FDHs to discuss rest day arrangements, so as to minimise the health risk of participating in social activities."
Employers are reminded that they must not compel their FDHs to work on a rest day. An employer who compels his or her FDH to work on a rest day without the agreement of the FDH, or fails to grant rest days to the FDH, is in breach of the Employment Ordinance and is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000.
Moreover, according to Clause 3 of the Standard Employment Contract, all FDHs working in Hong Kong must work and reside in the employer's residence during their employment period. If an employer breaches the above Clause and/or fails to provide the FDH with free, suitable and furnished accommodation, it will be one of the factors in the Immigration Department's consideration of the employer's future applications for employing an FDH. The adverse record may lead to any such application being refused. Furthermore, in case employers and/or FDHs knowingly furnish a false representation/statement to immigration officers in the course of a visa application, including the intended accommodation arrangement, they may be subject to criminal investigation and prosecution of the relevant offence.
The LD has issued letters to all employment agencies (EAs) providing FDH placement services to remind them that arrangements should not be made for any FDH under employment to stay at a place other than the employer's residence, including the boarding facilities provided by the EAs. The LD also reminded those EAs that if it is necessary to provide boarding facilities to FDHs who have ceased to be employed, they should avoid arranging FDHs to stay in overcrowded environments and ensure that appropriate infection control measures are in place at their boarding facilities.
All Hong Kong residents, including FDHs, can get vaccinated for COVID-19 free of charge. For booking and details, please visit the designated website of the Vaccination Programme (www.covidvaccine.gov.hk). The Government appeals to FDHs to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and others.
Should FDHs and their employers have any enquiries on employment matters, they may contact the LD through the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by 1823), by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or through the online form on the dedicated portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk).
Ends/Friday, January 14, 2022