Hong Kong to launch scheme to import thousands of care workers

An additional 3,000 workers might be brought in as part of the scheme.


This undated file photo shows a caregiver attending to a senior citizen at a care home in Hong Kong. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

December 15, 2022

HONG KONG – The Chief Executive in Council has endorsed the introduction of a special scheme to import care workers for residential care homes (RCHs) to address the acute shortage of care workers in the care homes sector, the Labour and Welfare Bureau announced on Wednesday.

The government will consult the Labour Advisory Board and the RCH sector on the special scheme’s implementation aspects, with a view to launching it in the second quarter of 2023, according to the bureau.

As one of the initiatives in the 2022 Policy Address, the special scheme aims to provide greater flexibility and more streamlined procedures to import care workers, the government said in a news release.

With a rapidly ageing population and a decrease in the overall unskilled labor force locally, it is expected that the RCH sector needs at least some additional 4,500 care workers in the next three years.

Spokesman, Labour and Welfare Bureau, HKSAR

Having had around 4,000 imported care workers currently in Hong Kong and to import some additional 3,000 care workers, the maximum quota for importation is 7,000 care workers.

The bureau explained that the sector needs at least an additional 4,500 care workers in the next three years in order to cope with the service commencement of new RCHs and additional residential care places under bought place schemes in phases.

Even if all the quotas under the scheme are approved, it is estimated that at least 1,500 vacancies will have to be filled by local job seekers, added the bureau.

At the time of submitting an application, RCHs must prove that they have conducted local recruitment through channels specified by the Director of Social Welfare but such recruitment has failed to fill the vacancies.

The ratio of local employees to imported care workers is set at one to one for private and self-financing RCHs, including those participating in bought place schemes, and one to two for subvented and contract RCHs.

This means the first two types of RCHs may apply to import one care worker only for every full-time local employee hired, while the latter two may apply to import one care worker only for every two full-time local staff employed.

The government will set up an inter-departmental liaison group chaired by the Director of Social Welfare to process applications submitted by RCHs on a first come, first served basis. The Director of Social Welfare will make a decision on each application after considering the group’s advice.

“The estimated processing time will be reduced from around five months currently under the Supplementary Labour Scheme to around two months under the Special Scheme,” said the spokesman.

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