LEGCO QUESTION No. 7(WRITTEN REPLY)
Date of Meeting: 12 December 2001
Asked by : Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
Replied by : SEM
Regarding employment agencies overcharging job seekers, will the Government inform this Council of:
- the respective numbers of complaints received by the Labour Department ("LD") last year and so far this year about employment agencies overcharging job seekers, together with a breakdown by the type of trades of the jobs which were offered to such persons;
- the total and average amount of fees involved in those complaint cases received by LD since the beginning of this year, the highest fees charged, and a breakdown (by bands of 10%) of the complaints by the fee as a percentage to the job seeker's wages in the first month of employment; and
- the new tricks used by employment agencies for overcharging which have come to the notice of LD?
- In 2000, the Labour Department received 53 complaints against employment agencies for overcharging of placement fee. 46 of them involved finding employment for foreign domestic helpers. From January to October this year, the Labour Department received 100 complaints of the same nature. 76 of them involved finding employment for foreign domestic helpers. The Labour Department does not have further breakdown by the type of trades of the jobs on the remaining complaints. The majority of the complainants was unable to provide detailed information or documentary proof of the offence under complaint. Moreover, the complaints were very often lodged long after the incidents, and the details reported might even be contradictory. Thus, the Labour Department has tremendous difficulties in following up the complaints.
- For the complaints received this year, the largest amount involved in a single case is $50,000. In this case, the complainant alleged that a sum of $50,000 had been paid to an ex-employee of an employment agency as placement fees for finding employment in Hong Kong for her six relatives. The complainant did not pay the money to the employment agency and did not have any receipt. She also could not assist in locating the person under complaint. Furthermore, the case had already been time-barred for prosecution when the complaint was lodged at the Labour Department. Therefore, no legal action could be taken. Since some of the complainants fail to specify the mode or even the amount of payment, the Labour Department does not keep detailed statistics on the amount of money involved and related analyses. The amount of placement fee overcharged in each case ranges from $800 to over $10,000 this year.
- This year, the Labour Department has not discovered any new abusive measures of employment agencies in overcharging job seekers. However, this is the first time we come across a case that an ex-employee of an employment agency deceived a large sum of money amounting to $50,000.