‘Vaccinated helpers may arrive from next month’

Relief may be on the way for Hong Kong families struggling to hire foreign domestic workers, as authorities are reportedly ironing out a plan to allow fully vaccinated helpers to come to the SAR to work – as early as next month.

That’s according to the chairman of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, Thomas Chan, who told an RTHK radio show on Thursday that he was informed of the latest developments by the Philippine Consulate General.

Chan said out of around 5,000 domestic helpers stuck in the Philippines and Indonesia due to a ban on flights, around 20 to 30 percent of them have taken one dose of a Covid vaccine, while less than 10 percent are fully inoculated.

“We estimate that it will be at least late July or even early August for people to have taken both doses. If the government really eases [the entry ban], I think it will be at least mid-August [when they get here], because they still have to deal with some travel paperwork,” he said.

The agency representative added that Indonesian authorities are also highly supportive of Hong Kong’s potential policy change, saying they would try and provide vaccinations for those intending to work in the SAR.

Hong Kong has seen an acute shortage of foreign domestic helpers since officials suspended flights from the Philippines and Indonesia in April and June, respectively.

Chan noted that local families are paying more to attract helpers, who are now getting an average monthly pay of between HK$5,500 and HK$6,500.

He added that some workers are also demanding better work conditions and rejecting offers that require them to take care of children or the elderly.