Gazettal of Employment (Amendment) Ordinance 2018
The Government published in the Gazette today (February 9) the Employment (Amendment) Ordinance 2018. The Ordinance also came into effect today.
Under the Ordinance, the maximum penalty for the offences of overcharging commission from job-seekers and the unlicensed operation of employment agencies (EAs) is raised from a fine of HK$50,000 to a fine of HK$350,000 and imprisonment for three years. In addition, the statutory time limit for prosecution of these two offences is extended from six months to 12 months.
The Ordinance also extends the scope of the overcharging offence to cover certain persons associated with the licensee, including the management of EAs and persons employed by the EAs; provides new grounds for the Commissioner for Labour (C for L) to consider refusing to issue or renew or revoking a licence; and provides a legal basis for C for L to issue codes of practice for EAs.
The Ordinance was enacted by the Legislative Council on February 1. A Government spokesman said, "The Ordinance will afford better protection to job-seekers, including foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) who may easily fall prey to dishonest EAs that overcharge them on commission as they may not be fully aware of their statutory rights. The Ordinance will also help enhance the service standards of EAs."
In accordance with section 62A which is newly provided by the Ordinance, the C for L today promulgated the revised Code of Practice for EAs (CoP), which supersedes the CoP promulgated on January 13, 2017. The major changes in the CoP serve to reflect the new legislative requirements under the Ordinance; set out the service standards that EAs should observe in handling job-seekers' passports or personal identification documents; require EAs to remind employers to provide information about the proposed accommodation to FDHs before signing the Standard Employment Contract with a view to enhancing FDHs' understanding of the accommodation arrangements; set out the requirements under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Cap 201); and provide new sample forms for EAs' reference.
EAs must comply with the requirements and standards set out in the CoP. Under the Ordinance, the C for L may refuse to issue or renew, or may revoke the licence of an EA, if its licensee or person intending to be the licensee, the related persons of, or persons employed by its licensee or person intending to be the licensee fail to comply with the CoP.
The CoP is available for public inspection for free at the office of the Employment Agencies Administration of the Labour Department (LD) (Address: Unit 906, 9/F, One Mong Kok Road Commercial Centre, 1 Mong Kok Road, Kowloon) during office hours. The CoP may also be downloaded from LD's website (www.labour.gov.hk) and at the Employment Agencies Portal (www.eaa.labour.gov.hk).