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Labour Department

Employment Agencies Portal

EMPLOYMENT AGENCY OPERATORS / STAFF

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Know the content of the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies(transcript), including the salient legislative requirements that employment agencies (EAs) must follow, and the standards which the Commissioner for Labour expects from EAs


Read the Points-to-Note for Operating an Employment Agency(transcript) and Guidelines and/or Circular Letters issued by the Employment Agencies Administration


See the information on the licensing and regulation of employment agencies

The proposed name of your employment agency should not be identical with or closely resemble the name of another EA. You can send the proposed name of your employment agency and your telephone number to Employment Agencies Administration by fax or email to check whether the proposed name can be used for application.

You need to submit the application form(transcript) in person, together with other relevant documents(transcript). Please also see the flow chart(transcript) and the guidance notes(transcript) for application procedures.


Important Note : Before being granted a licence, you must not operate an employment agency or will be liable for an offence.

You need to submit the renewal application form(transcript) two months before expiry, together with the supporting documents(transcript) required. Please also see the flow chart(transcript) for application procedures.


Important Note : Before your licence is renewed, you must not operate an employment agency or will be liable for an offence.

You are suggested to go over the Employment Ordinance and Employment Agency Regulations, as well as other related publications for the legal requirements under the Employment Ordinance and relevant to the employment of FDHs if you are placing Foreign Domestic Helpers.


According to EO and EAR, the maximum commission which may be received by an EA from a job-seeker shall be an amount not exceeding a sum equal to 10% of the first-month's wages received by the job-seeker after he/she has been successfully placed in employment by the EA. The provisions are applicable to all job-seekers.


You also need to ensure that the operation of your EA is in full compliance with all laws of Hong Kong at all times. EA licensees, nominated operators, related persons of and the individuals employed by the licensees or the person intending to be the licensee, as well as parties interested in joining the EA business should also read the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies(transcript) for salient legislative requirements (they are by no means exhaustive) that must be followed when operating the EA and the minimum standards which the Commissioner for Labour expects from them.


Apart from EO and EAR, EAs should observe provisions of other legislation including but not limited to the following:

  • Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO)
    In their commercial practices, EAs must not deploy against consumers unfair trade practices prohibited by TDO.

  • Immigration Ordinance
    EAs should not aid or abet others (e.g., employers or FDHs) to make false representation to Immigration Officers or to breach the job-seekers’ conditions of stay in Hong Kong.

  • Theft Ordinance
    EAs should not withhold the personal property of job-seekers without the owners’ explicit consent.

  • Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (PDPO)
    EAs should observe the requirements under the PDPO when handling the personal information of employers and job-seekers.

  • Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO)
    EAs should observe the requirements under the POBO, including not to solicit, accept or offer any bribe in conducting the EA’s business or affairs.


For the laws which are considered most relevant to the operation of EAs, please refer to the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies(transcript).


If you wish to know more about the Employment Ordinance, you can enroll the seminars (in Cantonese) organized by the Labour Department. For more information, please click here.


For enquiries relating to the labour-related laws, you can call Labour Department’s 24-hour hotline 2717 1771 (handled by 1823). For other enquiries, please contact the relevant departments/organisations.

Employment Agency Licence


According to the Employment Ordinance (EO), any person who wishes to operate an employment agency (EA) in Hong Kong to provide job-placement service must apply for a licence, or a Certificate of Exemption (CoE) from the Commissioner for Labour before he/she can carry out business. The EO stipulated that, only the holder of an EA licence or CoE or an associate of the holder may operate, manage or assist in the management of an EA in Hong Kong. An associate is only allowed to operate, manage or assist in the management of the EA to which the licensee’s licence relates.


In short, an associate includes the management of and a person employed by an EA. According to the law, an associate means a related person of or an individual employed by the licensee or the person intending to be the licensee of an EA;


A related person means, in relation to a company, a director, manager, secretary, or other similar officer of the company; or in relation to a partner in a partnership, another partner in the partnership or another person concerned in the management of the partnership.


Operating an EA without a valid licence or a CoE is liable for an offence, which is subject to a maximum penalty of $350,000 and imprisonment for 3 years upon conviction.

Branch office(s)


The licence is valid for operating an EA at the place of business specified in the licence or CoE issued in respect of the EA only. A duplicate licence should be obtained for each of the branch office(s) of the EA which is located at different address(es).

Validity of the licence


The licence is valid for one year from the date of issuance. The licensee should ensure that his/her EA licence (including main and duplicate licence(s)) is renewed before the present one expires.


Renewal application should be submitted to Employment Agencies Administration (EAA) no later than two months before the expiration. The licensee is reminded to submit the renewal application with all information and supporting documents required timely to avoid the situation where the licence could not be renewed before it was expired.

Requirements when the EA is in business


  • The licence must be displayed in a prominent position at the licensed address.
  • The Second Schedule to the Employment Agency Regulations (which sets out the prescribed commission) must be displayed in a prominent position at the licensed address.

Failure to do so may be liable for an offence, subject to a maximum penalty of $10,000.

Change of business details / Cessation of business


The licensee is required to notify EAA in writing, for any change of the following within the specified period –

  • Change of nominated operator – within 14 days after the change
  • Change of related persons of the licensee – within 14 days after the change
  • Change of individuals employed by the licensee – within 14 days after the change
  • Change of place of EA business – not less than 14 days before the change
  • Cessation of business – within 7 days after the cessation. The licence (main and duplicate) should be returned to EAA by the same deadline.

Code of Practice for Employment Agencies


The Commissioner for Labour, pursuant to section 62A of Employment Ordinance, promulgated the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies (CoP)(transcript) for compliance by the industry with a view to promoting professionalism and quality service in the EA industry.


The LD may issue warning letters to EAs for rectification of irregularities detected, including but not limited to failing to meet the statutory requirements and/or standards set out in the CoP. The Commissioner for Labour may also consider, amongst other relevant factors, the relevant track record of the EAs and/or their capability of meeting such requirements / standards, in making decision of revoking, or refusing to grant or renew EA licences.


The CoP is available for inspection by the public free of charge at the office of the Employment Agencies Administration of the Labour Department during office hours. The CoP may also be downloaded from LD’s website and at this thematic website.

Useful documents and forms

All EA operators and potential operators should read the Practical Guide for Operating an Employment Agency for the legal requirements and procedures that should be followed when applying for an EA licence as well as operating an EA.


The Code of Practice for Employment Agencies(transcript) should be read by all EA licensees, the nominated operators, related persons of and the individuals employed by the licensee or the person intending to be the licensee, as well as parties interested in joining the EA business, for salient legislative requirements that they must follow when operating their business and the minimum standards which the Commissioner for Labour expects from them.


Forms

Depending on the type of application / notification to be submitted to EAA, different forms and documents would be required. For the forms that are commonly used, please click here.


According to paragraph 4.2.3 of the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies, EAs are required to notify EAA as soon as practicable and preferably within 14 days of any change of the contact particulars of the licensee, company director(s) and/or nominated operator by submitting Form CoP-F1. Besides, EAs are required to notify EAA within 14 days if there are any changes (including joining, leaving or position change) of the related person(s) or employed individual(s) by completing form EA-LOA(transcript). If there is insufficient space to provide particulars of all the related persons or employed individuals in the form EA-LOA, please use the ‘Supplementary Sheet-Related Person (EA-LOA-Supp-RP)(transcript)’ and the ‘Supplementary Sheet-Employed Individual (EA-LOA-Supp-EE)(transcript)’. The completed form(s) together with the authorisation at Appendix (if applicable), all in original should be submitted to EAA by post.


EAs should also update their particulars displayed in this website (EA Portal) where necessary by submitting the Form EAP-F1.

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A foreign domestic helper