Hong Kong 2006
Chapter 6:
Labour Market Situation
Labour Administration and Services
Employment Services
Preparing People for Work
Labour Relations
Employees' Rights
and Benefits
Imported Workers
Occupational Safety
and Health
Occupational Safety
and Health Council
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Imported Workers

General Policy on Entry for Employment

The Immigration Department is responsible for handling matters relating to the entry of foreigners for employment. Foreigners may work or invest in Hong Kong if they possess special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong and receive salaries broadly commensurate with those on the market, or who can make a substantial contribution to the economy.

Genuine business people and entrepreneurs are welcome to establish a presence in Hong Kong, bringing with them capital and expertise. Qualified professionals, technical people, administrators and managers are also admitted with minimum formalities. During the year, 21 958 foreign professionals and people with technical, administrative or managerial skills from more than 100 countries/territories were admitted for employment.

Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals

The Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals launched in 2003 was set up to attract talented people and professionals to work in Hong Kong to meet local manpower needs and to enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness in the world market. (Further details of this scheme are given in Chapter 20).

Employment of Mainland Graduates with Hong Kong Degrees

Mainland students who have graduated from institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) since 1990 may be admitted for employment, provided they possess special skills or knowledge of value to, but not readily available in Hong Kong and who are paid salaries broadly commensurate with those on the open market. This scheme was extended in July 2005 to those who studied at non-UGC-funded institutions during the academic year 2005-06 and thereafter, and who obtained degrees or higher accreditations from local institutions where they studied full-time. The aim of this arrangement is to attract outstanding Mainland students who have completed full-time degree or higher level courses to re-enter Hong Kong for employment.

Supplementary Labour Scheme

Under the Supplementary Labour Scheme, employers may apply to import workers to fill vacancies at technician level or below. The Government's policy on importation of labour is based on two cardinal principles:

  local workers must be given priority in filling job vacancies available in the job market; and
employers who are genuinely unable to recruit local workers to fill their job vacancies should be allowed to import workers.

All applications under the scheme are considered on a case-by-case basis. To ensure priority of employment for local workers, each application to import workers has to pass three tests before it is submitted to the Labour Advisory Board for consideration and to the Government for a decision. These tests are: advertising in newspapers, job-matching by the Labour Department for four weeks, and organising retraining courses with the assistance of the Employees Retraining Board for local workers, if appropriate.

In early 2006, a series of measures under the Supplementary Labour Scheme was introduced as a pilot exercise for the textiles and clothing industry to facilitate a more flexible importation of skilled workers that Hong Kong was lacking.

As at the end of 2006, there were 1 144 imported workers working in Hong Kong.

Foreign Domestic Helpers

Foreign domestic helpers may be admitted subject to the conditions that they have relevant working experience, and that their employers are Hong Kong residents who are prepared to offer reasonable terms of employment including suitable accommodation and wages not lower than the level of the minimum allowable wage set by the Government. Their employers must also be willing to provide for their maintenance and the cost of their passage home. Employers must also satisfy requirements on income and assets.

In general, the demand for foreign domestic helpers has increased over the past three decades. At the end of 2006, there were 232 780 such helpers in Hong Kong, an increase of 4.3 per cent over the 223 200 in 2005. About 51.9 per cent were from the Philippines and 44.7 per cent from Indonesia.

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