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What should I do if my employment agency is overcharging me?

If seeking employment while in Hong Kong

If you are already in Hong Kong, you can legally be charged 10% of your first month’s salary for recruitment fees after successful placement, according to the Hong Kong Labour Department. If you are being charged more or if you are unsure about whether the employment agency is acting legally, speak to the Labour Department and your consulate. 

You can call the Labour Department’s hotline at +852 2157 9537 (dial Ext. ‘11’ for English, Ext. ‘17’ for Bahasa Indonesia and Ext. ‘19’ for Tagalog). 

You can also call the Indonesian Consulate at +852 6773 0466 or the Philippine Consulate at +852 9155 4023.

It might feel a bit scary to report the employment agency, and you might feel worried about your job security, but it is better to take action early on - paying very high illegal fees now can lead you into a cycle of debt, which can take a long time to escape. If you have already signed the contract with an employer, perhaps you could inform your employer about the agency charging you illegal fees. They might be able to provide help or support.

If seeking employment from the Philippines

If you are applying from the Philippines, it is not legal for employment agencies to charge any placement fees for domestic worker jobs in Hong Kong. If you’re asked to pay for this, refuse to pay. However, most agencies are aware of the law and instead of placement fees, they might charge you high training fees, medical fees and other fees for processing the visa. These fees are not regulated and agencies may charge very high fees, for example PHP 150,000; in reality these costs should not be more PHP 15,000 - PHP 20,000. Be aware that if you’ve already taken the TESDA you do not have to take the training again - you can just take the exam if your certificate is no longer valid.

If seeking employment from Indonesia

If you are applying from Indonesia, employment agencies are allowed to charge a maximum recruitment fee of IDR 14,780,400 for domestic worker jobs in Hong Kong. This should include all the costs of training, insurance, the medical and paperwork processing. In reality many domestic workers are told to pay more than this fee. If your agency is charging you more, you can refuse to pay this.

For any fees that you pay to your employment agency, always ask for a written receipt and double check that what is written on the receipt is correct.