A domestic worker employment agency in Tuen Mun was fined $45,000 at Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Court on Thursday for overcharging commission fees from a job seeker. It is the eighth agency to be found guilty of overcharging this year.

An investigation carried out by the Labour Department following a complaint made this April found that the company, Artellect Limited, had collected excessive placement fees from a domestic worker.

Labour Department. Photo: Wikicommons.

Artellect Limited’s page on AsiaXPAT reads: “Artellect is a Hong Kong licensed recruitment agency. We supply nannies, domestic helpers and beauticians with high-paid jobs in Russia and Israel. Everybody welcome!”

The Labour Department reminded agencies to comply with the law, under which they are not allowed to collect from domestic workers any fees outside of the prescribed commission. This commission level is set at ten per cent of the first month’s salary following successful placement.

Foreign domestic workers gathering outside Victoria Park. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A spokesman for the Labour Department said he was glad that the domestic worker in question submitted a complaint and was willing to act as prosecution witness: “The Department will not tolerate any employment agencies overcharging job seekers and will act promptly upon receipt of any complaints. Prosecution will be initiated when there is sufficient evidence and the Commissioner for Labour will consider revoking, or refusing to renew, an employment agency’s licence upon its conviction.”

Currently, there are around 178,000 Filipino domestic workers and 150,000 Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong. The overcharging of commission fees by recruitment agencies is a common problem.

In August, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung met with Indonesia’s Minister of Manpower Hanif Dhakiri, with both sides agreeing that their respective governments would continue to work together to prevent recruitment agencies from charging domestic workers.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.