August 4, 2023
BEIJING – Hong Kong families may have to pay about HK$5,000 ($640) more to hire an Indonesian domestic helper as the government in Jakarta mulls passing on all employment costs to employers. The policy change is expected to affect many families in Hong Kong as 40 percent of the city’s 340,000 domestic helpers are from Indonesia.
The “Zero Placement Fee” policy was first announced in 2020 by the Indonesian government, requiring overseas employers to cover all expenses incurred when hiring Indonesian domestic workers.
This includes airfare, visas, passport replacement, medical examinations, transportation, and accommodation expenses. In total, it would amount to around HK$20,000 for hiring a helper from Indonesia, up from over HK$10,000.
The policy was originally slated to take effect in January 2021, but has been postponed. It is now likely to start before the end of this month.
On Wednesday, representatives of the Indonesian recruitment association Aspataki, under the authorization of Indonesia’s National Board for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers, held a press briefing in Hong Kong to explain the policy change to Hong Kong-based agencies.
Thomas Chan Tung-fung, chairman of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, thought it could potentially drive up the wages of locally-contracted Indonesian domestic workers, possibly pushing up their monthly salary to HK$6,000 or more from the current statutory minimum wage of HK$4,730.
Indonesian officials are expected to visit the city this month to drive home the message of the policy change.
Speaking on a radio program on Thursday, Thomas Chan Tung-fung, chairman of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, said up to 30 percent of employers planning to hire Indonesian helpers may look to other countries. Chan said the Indonesian government is highly likely to implement the new policy, expecting that it will be applied in the new contracts being signed two weeks from now.
Chan also thought it could potentially drive up the wages of locally-contracted Indonesian domestic workers, possibly pushing up their monthly salary to HK$6,000 or more from the current statutory minimum wage of HK$4,730.
Chan said he believes that this decision will not affect those Indonesian helpers already contracted in Hong Kong. Hence, some families might seek to hire locally-contracted ones instead of the new ones through overseas recruiting, he said.
Chan mentioned that most Indonesian helpers can speak Cantonese, and so despite the increased cost would still appeal to families who need help caring for elderly members.
According to the Census and Statistics Department, at the end of 2022, there were 338,000 foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. Among them, over 190,000 were from the Philippines, followed by nearly 140,000 Indonesian domestic workers, making up approximately 41 percent of the total.