MANILA (Mabuhay) — Philippine labor officials on Friday warned Hong Kong-based employment agencies against collecting placement fees from Filipino household service workers (HSWs), saying they could lose their accreditation for this.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said it has received reports some Philippine-accredited agencies in Hong Kong collecting placement fees from HSWs through an “imaginary loan” or an ATM account.
“The Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong has already issued a memorandum to all accredited HK agencies with a warning that the Philippine government will not tolerate these malpractices,” POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in a post on the POEA Facebook account.
Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Hong Kong Labor Attaché Manuel Roldan said the imaginary loan involves the worker being brought to a lending company in the Philippines or in Hong Kong.
Under this setup, a worker is made to sign a loan agreement but does not receive the loan proceeds, but is instead issued a card and advised to pay the loan on installment through a convenience store.
“The agency keeps the worker’s passport or employment contract and returned to the worker upon full payment,” the POEA said.
In an ATM account, the agency assists the worker in opening a savings account and keeps the ATM card. The employer is then advised to deposit the salary of the worker to that account.
However, the agency withdraws the worker’s salary and gets its “share” as placement fee, then gives the remaining cash to the worker.
Roldan said such practices are highly irregular and illegal, and violate the Philippine government’s “no placement fee policy.”
He said this also violates the legally allowed agency commission in Hong Kong, which is 10 percent of the worker’s monthly salary.
“Any violation committed by the Hong Kong agency will be dealt with seriously (and the Consulate General of the Philippines) will apply the full force of Philippine laws that may eventually lead to the suspension or cancellation of the agency’s accreditation with the Philippine Consulate and the POEA,” Roldan said. (MNS)