Agency Boss Face Jail, Fine After Placing China Jobs to Filipino Tourists

An employment agency manager has been sentenced by a Shangai court to eight years in prison and a fine of CNY200,000 (P1.56 million) for securing jobs for at least 24 Filipinos who entered China as tourists, a report from Xinhua said.

The defendant, surnamed Lui, reportedly recruited candidates in the Philippines with assistance from local partners. She helped the job seekers apply for tourist or transit visas and facilitated them to enter the China job market as domestic workers across various cities. She then kept about CNY4,000 out of a helper’s CNY6,000 monthly salary as “referral fee.”

The court heard that Liu collected around CNY350,000 in such fees. She then paid her two recruiters in the Philippines CNY730,000 out of the CNY1.2 million she collected from the workers’ wages. The recruiters, said to be a Chinese and a Filipino, will face separate charges.

Liu was charged as an aider and abettor, a felony under Chinese law that entails much more severe penalties compared with hiring illegal workers.

Despite recent talks with Manila to open its doors to Filipino workers, Beijing still uses a strict quota and screening process to limit the entry of foreigners employed as domestic workers.

High wages lure Filipino women to China, and middle-class families in major cities scramble to hire them because they can also tutor their kids in English.

The employment agent’s promised 6,000 yuan monthly salary is noticeably higher than wages in Hong Kong, where 48 per cent of domestic workers come from the Philippines. This comes even after the minimum allowable wage there was increased to HK$4,410 per month late last year.

Like in many other countries, those who enter China as tourists or on transit visits and who overstay their visas to work as helpers do so at their own risk. Because their contracts are not legally binding, often they will be exploited by agencies who pay late or take unexpected deductions out of their salaries. If caught, they will be deported and denied future entry to China, and in the worst case scenario, they may even face jail, labor advocates say.