According to the International Labor Organization, women make up for the majority of the world's domestic workers, at 83 percent. Many of these women are part of an inherently flawed system which lands them in all sorts of trouble. The problem is being tackled by a new start up, called Fair Employment Agency in Hong Kong.
Many of these women go through various processes in order to get these jobs, which often place them outside of their home country. As a result, they are perpetually vulnerable to debt, abuse, prostitution and more.
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It may seem like they are in a pit where no one can help them, but not really. The Fair Employment Agency is equipped and ready to assist.
A lawyer/ethics professor, an accountant and a fresh MBA graduate teamed up in order to curtail a system which perpetually disrupts the lives of women from all corners of the world. Although FEA is a Hong Kong-based company, its outreach by design caters to women who end up in different parts of Asia and the Middle East. FEA works as a charity, but its main goal is to change the systems where many workers seek employment.
Here’s how they do it: FEA places domestic workers with employers without forcing them to pay a placement fee – a cost that falls upon the employers. For now, it’s operational only in Hong Kong but it hopes to sustainably grow in other areas where domestic workers face trouble. The system they are trying to introduce allows for employees to be matched with employers, where the initial expenses of visa permits, medical tests and a fee of HK$7,500 (US$967) for a standard two-year contract are handled by the wealthy employers.
Both parties gain benefits from this system, where an employer knows that the person they’re hiring will live up to the expectations of his or her contract and vice versa, and the worker is spared the added expenditure and hardship of getting a job.
A huge number of domestic workers accumulate debt when trying to attain employment. This is extremely unfair for someone who is already unemployed or economically weak in the first place.
Their initiative should be praised. However, FEA is bound to face difficulty in tackling the competition, where recruiters offer appealing deals like 25 percent off service charges. Apart from that, as FEA grows, it's likely to have to deal with a labyrinth of different labor laws in different regions.
But still, they are a ray of hope for thousands, if not millions of domestic workers in the region that seek employment abroad.
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