Government welcomes Court of First Instance judgment on "live-in requirement"
The Government welcomed the ruling of the Court of First Instance today (February 14) which upholds the legality of the requirement that persons entering Hong Kong to work as domestic helpers shall reside in their employers' residence ("live-in requirement") in an application for judicial review.
A Government spokesman said, "We are pleased that the judgment confirms that the 'live-in requirement' is lawful. The 'live-in requirement' underpins the long-established Government policy that priority in employment should be given to the local workforce and importation of foreign workers should only be allowed when there is proven manpower shortage in specific trades that cannot be filled by local workers. It is in line with this policy objective that foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) have been imported since the 1970s to meet the proven shortage of local live-in domestic helpers.
"Before coming to Hong Kong, the FDH has agreed to Clause 3 of the Standard Employment Contract (SEC), which states that the FDH is to work and reside in the employer’s residence by signing the SEC with the employer. In addition to the contractual agreement, the FDH and the employer must each give an undertaking to the Government in the application forms for visa application with the Immigration Department (ImmD) that the FDH would only reside in the employer's residence. In other words, FDHs are fully aware of the 'live-in requirement' before signing the contract and they are admitted to Hong Kong on such basis. They can terminate the contract any time if they are no longer willing to comply with the contractual terms, including the 'live-in requirement'.
"The Government spares no effort in safeguarding the rights and benefits of some 370 000 FDHs in Hong Kong, who enjoy the same statutory protection as local employees under the Hong Kong labour law. Under the SEC, the employer should provide the FDH with suitable and furnished accommodation and with reasonable privacy free of charge. The employer is also required to give an undertaking in the relevant visa application form to provide the FDH with suitable accommodation and with reasonable privacy. The application will be refused if the employer fails to meet the requirement."
If a FDH considers that his/her employer fails to provide suitable accommodation or has breached any of the terms concerning accommodation arrangements as provided in the SEC, or his/her employment rights are being infringed, he/she may approach the Labour Department for free consultation and conciliation services. He/she may also report to the ImmD for investigation. If an employer breaches his/her undertaking to the Government and/or fails to provide the FDH with free, suitable and furnished accommodation with reasonable privacy as provided under the SEC, it will be one of the factors in the ImmD's consideration of the employer's future application for employing a FDH from abroad. The adverse record may lead to any such application being refused. Further, employers who knowingly furnish a false representation/statement to immigration officers in respect of the intended accommodation arrangement in the course of a visa application are subject to criminal investigation and possible prosecution for the relevant offence.