Home Health Employers Voice Concern Over Domestic Helper Medical Screening Process

Employers Voice Concern Over Domestic Helper Medical Screening Process

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Households in Hong Kong employing foreign domestic helpers are voicing growing unease over the reliability of medical reports provided by recruitment agencies, as undisclosed health issues come to light and challenge the integrity of the current examination system.

With around 356,000 foreign domestic helpers employed in the city by the end of last year, troubling cases have surfaced that are sparking public outcry for more comprehensive health checks.

In one disturbing incident, a Filipino helper was diagnosed with leprosy after initial symptoms were mistakenly attributed to an allergic reaction. Despite a clean bill of health in the recruitment agency’s medical report, the helper’s condition deteriorated, leading to hospitalization and a confirmed diagnosis. The agency initially refused responsibility, citing legal compliance, until media coverage prompted an apology and a commitment to cover medical and travel expenses.

Another employer, Ms. Chan, shared her struggles after her helper concealed a foot injury that was later claimed as a work-related issue, complicating the employer’s ability to dismiss or replace the helper.

These cases have shone a spotlight on the shortcomings of the current “fit to work” certification process, which Legislative Councillor Frankie Ngan Man-yu says fails to adequately address conditions like HIV or syphilis.

“These are not isolated incidents,” Ngan warned, calling for the establishment of a one-stop hotline for employers and a full review of policies governing foreign domestic helper employment.

The revelations have eroded trust in the system and heightened concerns among Hong Kong households relying on these vital workers. As the city grapples with this issue, employers and policymakers must work together to ensure the health and safety of both helpers and the families they serve.