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Chapter 5
Employment Services

The Programme of Employment Services
5.1 The objective of the Employment Services Programme is to provide a comprehensive range of free employment assistance and recruitment services to help job seekers find suitable jobs and employers fill their vacancies. We achieve this by :
providing user-friendly employment and recruitment services to job seekers and employers;
offering dedicated employment-related assistance and personalised service to vulnerable groups of unemployed people;
assisting young people to enhance their employability and advising them on careers choice;
regulating local employment agencies;
safeguarding the interests of local employees employed by employers outside Hong Kong to work in other territories; and
ensuring that employment opportunities for local workers are not adversely affected by abuse of the labour importation scheme.
5.2 The principal legislation administered by this programme area includes the Employment Agency Regulations made under the Employment Ordinance (EO) and the Contracts for Employment Outside Hong Kong Ordinance.
5.3 The Employment Agency Regulations, together with Part XII of EO, regulate the operation of employment agencies in Hong Kong through licensing, inspection, investigation and prosecution.
5.4 The Contracts for Employment Outside Hong Kong Ordinance safeguards the interests of local manual workers and those non-manual employees with monthly wages not exceeding $20,000 who are recruited by employers outside Hong Kong to work in other territories through the attestation of employment contracts for these jobs.
Our Work and Achievements in 2016
Employment Situation in Hong Kong
5.5 The Hong Kong economy grew modestly in 2016. The labour market remained generally stable, with the annual unemployment rate staying at a low level of 3.4% in 2016. For updated statistics on the labour force, unemployment rate and underemployment rate, please visit the webpage: .
5.6 The Labour Department (LD) recorded a total of 1 347 613 vacancies offered by employers of the private sector for free recruitment service in 2016. In the year, a total of 149 794 placements were secured. (Figures 5.1 and 5.2)
A Wider Service Choice
Services offered at Job Centres
5.7 Job seekers can browse vacancies at job centres and seek referral service provided by the staff or apply to the employers direct. Job seekers may also meet with employment officers who will provide job search advice as well as assist them in matching and finding suitable jobs in accordance with their individual needs and preferences. Various facilities such as digital display system, touchscreen vacancy search terminals, fax machines, toll-free telephones, computers connected to the Internet and resource corners are available for the use by job seekers.
Industry-based Recruitment Centres
5.8 The three industry-based recruitment centres of LD i.e. the Recruitment Centre for the Catering Industry, the Recruitment Centre for the Retail Industry and the Construction Industry Recruitment Centre provide free as well as one-stop and on-the-spot recruitment services for employers and job seekers, enhancing the efficiency of recruitment and job search.
Telephone Employment Service
5.9 Job seekers registered at LD may call our Telephone Employment Service Centre on 2969 0888 for job referral service. Through conference calls, staff of the Centre can make arrangement for job seekers to talk to employers direct.
On-line Employment Service
5.10 Our Interactive Employment Service (iES) website ( provides round-the-clock on-line employment service and comprehensive employment information. The iES website is one of the most popular government websites, recording around 220 million page views in 2016. It hosts a number of thematic webpages to provide dedicated employment information for specific clientele. Job seekers can also use the iES mobile application to look for suitable vacancies in the job vacancy database of LD anytime and anywhere. The mobile application recorded around 150 million hit counts in 2016.
5.11 We launched the Higher Education Employment Information e-Platform ( in December 2016 to strengthen employment support for job seekers with higher education, with a view to enhancing their understanding of the Hong Kong employment market and facilitating them to search and apply for suitable job openings through the new thematic webpage.
Central Processing of Job Vacancies
5.12 Employers who need to recruit staff can send their vacancy information to our Job Vacancy Processing Centre by fax (2566 3331) or through the Internet ( The vacancy information is then disseminated through a network of 13 job centres, three recruitment centres for the catering, retail and construction industries, the iES website and mobile application as well as vacancy search terminals located in various sites throughout the territory after vetting.
Special Recruitment and Promotional Activities
5.13 LD organises a variety of activities to promote our employment services and appeal for vacancies from employers. Job fairs are held to facilitate job seekers and employers to meet and communicate direct. In 2016, LD held different kinds of large-scale job fairs to cater for various needs of job seekers and employers from different sectors, including large-scale job fairs in Tuen Mun and Sheung Shui to assist job seekers living in remote areas in securing employment, as well as thematic job fairs assisting ethnic minority and mature job seekers to find suitable jobs and employers from retail industry to recruit employees. LD also staged job fairs that provided employment and vacancy information on the Mainland to deepen job seekers’ understanding of the employment opportunities on the Mainland and broaden their choices in job search. Moreover, to enhance efficiency of the recruitment process and facilitate placements of job seekers in the vicinity of their residence, district-based job fairs were held at job centres to assist employers to recruit local residents and to enable job seekers to participate in job interviews without having to travel long distance. In the year, 19 large-scale job fairs and 960 district-based job fairs were held, attracting over 61 000 job seekers.
Job Fair for Middle-aged and Elderly Employment
Job Fair for Middle-aged and Elderly Employment
Intensified Services for the Needy
Mature Job Seekers
5.14 We provide dedicated employment services for mature persons and promote their employment through various means such as setting up special counters at job centres to provide priority registration and job referral services for mature job seekers, conducting employers' experience sharing sessions, and organising employment briefings and job fairs targeted at mature persons.
5.15 The Employment Programme for the Middle-aged (EPM) assists the unemployed job seekers aged 40 or above to find work. Employers who engage an eligible mature job seeker in a full-time or part-time permanent job and offer him/her on-the-job training are entitled to a maximum training allowance of $3,000 per month, for a period of three to six months. In 2016, a total of 2 978 placements were secured through the programme.
Work Trial Scheme (WTS)
5.16 WTS seeks to enhance the employability of job seekers who have difficulties in finding jobs. There is no age limit for applicants. During the one-month work-trial without employer-employee relationship, participants take up jobs offered by participating organisations. On completion of the one-month work trial, each participant will receive an allowance of $6,900, of which $500 will be contributed by the participating organisation. In 2016, a total of 192 job seekers were placed into work trials.
Work Incentive Transport Subsidy (WITS) Scheme
5.17 LD administers the territory-wide WITS Scheme which aims at helping low-income earners reduce their cost of travelling to and from work and encouraging them to secure or stay in employment. Qualified applicants may choose to apply for WITS on an individual or household basis for the previous six to 12 months in each application, with the monthly subsidy of $600 (or $300 at half-rate). The income and asset limits for the subsidy had been raised since the claim month of February 2016 under the annual adjustment mechanism. In 2016, we completed a review of the Scheme and rolled out enhancement measures. As at year end, a total of 109 346 applicants received subsidies totalling $1,451 million.
New Arrivals and Ethnic Minorities
5.18 We provide a comprehensive range of employment services to new arrival and ethnic minority job seekers through job centres. These include employment advisory service, job referral, tailor-made employment briefing and resources. Those who have difficulties finding jobs are encouraged to participate in various employment programmes to enhance their employability. We also proactively promote our recruitment activities to them so as to speed up their job search.
5.19 To strengthen the employment services for ethnic minority job seekers, LD launched the “Employment Services Ambassador Programme for Ethnic Minorities” in September 2014. Trainees of the Youth Employment and Training Programme who can communicate in ethnic minority languages are employed by LD to work as Employment Services Ambassadors at our job centres, industry-based recruitment centres and job fairs to provide employment services to job seekers, particularly the ethnic minorities. Furthermore, large-scale and district-based inclusive job fairs are organised to enhance the employment opportunities of the ethnic minorities.
Workers affected by Large-scale Retrenchment
5.20 In major business closure or redundancy cases, LD sets up hotlines for enquiry and special counters at job centres to provide special employment services to affected employees. LD canvasses suitable vacancies from employers to facilitate job search of the affected employees. In addition, under our iES website, a dedicated webpage displays vacancies offered by employers interested in recruiting job seekers who have lost their jobs in recent closure or redundancy exercises. In the year, LD offered such special employment services to some 1 500 affected employees.
Job Seekers with Disabilities
5.21 The Selective Placement Division (SPD) offers employment assistance to job seekers with disabilities looking for open employment. Employment consultants provide personalised employment services, including employment counselling, job matching and referral and post placement follow-up services. In 2016, SPD registered 2 790 job seekers with disabilities and secured 2 250 placements. (Figure 5.3)
5.22 To strengthen the employment support for job seekers with disabilities, SPD launched a two-year pilot scheme in September 2016 to engage a non-governmental welfare organisation to provide professional psychological and emotional counselling service to job seekers with disabilities in need of this service.
Work Orientation and Placement Scheme (WOPS)
5.23 WOPS facilitates open employment of persons with disabilities by encouraging employers to offer job vacancies to persons with disabilities through the provision of an allowance. An eligible employer who employs persons with disabilities having employment difficulties is entitled to an allowance equivalent to the amount of actual salary paid to an employee with disabilities less $500 per month during the first two months of employment, subject to a monthly allowance ceiling of $5,500. After the first two months, the employer is entitled to an allowance equivalent to two-thirds of the actual salary paid to the employee concerned, subject to an allowance ceiling of $4,000 per month, and for a maximum payment period up to six months. WOPS also provides pre-employment training to persons with disabilities with a view to enhancing their employability. In 2016, 816 placements were secured through the scheme.
Self Help Integrated Placement Service (SHIPS)
5.24 SHIPS aims at improving the job-searching skills of job seekers with disabilities and encouraging them to be more proactive in search for jobs, thereby enhancing their employment opportunities. In 2016, 461 job seekers with disabilities participated in the programme.
Interactive Selective Placement Service (iSPS) Website
5.25 The iSPS website ( provides employment services for job seekers with disabilities and employers through the Internet. The website enables persons with disabilities to register with SPD, browse job vacancy information and perform preliminary job-matching. It also enables employers to place vacancy orders, identify suitable job seekers with disabilities to fill their vacancies and request SPD to refer candidates to them for selection interview. The website facilitates employers to browse information on the work capacity of persons with disabilities more readily. At the same time, it helps persons with disabilities to access various on-line employment services and other related support services.
Promotional Activities
5.26 To enhance public understanding of the working abilities of persons with disabilities as well as to publicise the services of SPD and WOPS, SPD conducted a series of promotional activities, such as staging of exhibitions, production of publications and advertisements, broadcast of promotional videos, publicising promotional messages through newspapers, publications of employers’ associations, radio and television channels, public transport vehicles, wall banners and mobile application advertisements, etc. during the year. In addition, a large-scale seminar was held for employers and human resources practitioners. Promotional visits were paid and publicity materials were sent to employers of different trades with a view to canvassing job vacancies for persons with disabilities.
Services for Young People
Youth Employment and Training Programme (YETP)
5.27 To enhance the employability of young people, LD administers YETP, a “through-train” programme providing seamless and comprehensive training and employment support to young school leavers aged 15 to 24 with educational attainment at sub-degree level or below.
5.28 Trainees can enrol on a year-round basis and are entitled to a full range of coordinated and customised training and employment support services, including pre-employment training, one-month workplace attachment training, on-the-job training of six to 12 months, reimbursement of off-the-job course and examination fees up to $4,000 per trainee, as well as case management services rendered by registered social workers. Employers who engage trainees under YETP and provide them with on-the-job training are entitled to a maximum training allowance of $3,000 per month per employee for six to 12 months.
5.29 In the 2015/16 programme year running from September 2015 to August 2016, 2 883 young people attended pre-employment training and 3 011 trainees were placed into on-the-job training vacancies under YETP.
5.30 YETP closely collaborates with training bodies and individual employers or employers of specific sectors to launch special employment projects, providing tailor-made pre-employment training and on-the-job training for young people. In the 2015/16 programme year, 58 special employment projects were launched involving employers in the aviation, catering, logistics, personal and business services, property management and retail industries, etc.
5.31 In August, we co-organised the Award Ceremony of Most Improved Trainees of YETP cum Concert with Radio 2 of Radio Television Hong Kong. The event, themed “Power Your Life”, showcased the creditable improvements of trainees after joining YETP and commended the caring efforts of training bodies and employers. Trainees’ successful experience constituted the best encouragement to their peers. It was also a sterling testimony to the achievements of trainees, training bodies, employers and the Government in nurturing the development of the younger generation. In the year, LD also produced a drama and a micro-movie both entitled “Seize the Second” which were adapted from the encouraging stories of YETP trainees.
Programme for Youths with Acute Employment Difficulties
5.32 To strengthen the employment support for vulnerable youths, LD in July 2010 launched a special employment project, “Action S5”, targeting young people aged 15 to 24 with acute employment difficulties. Under this project, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were commissioned to nominate vulnerable youths and provide on-the-job training opportunities to them for 12 months. Through intensive and customised training and employment support, the project aimed at nurturing the work knowledge and skills of participants to improve their employability. The project was implemented in five phases with the last one ended in 2016. Altogether, a total of 466 trainees participated in on-the-job training under the project.
Youth Employment Support
5.33 LD operates two youth employment resource centres named Youth Employment Start (Y.E.S.). The two centres provide personalised advisory and support services on employment and self-employment to young people aged between 15 and 29 to facilitate them to map out their career path, enhance their employability and support them to pursue self-employment. Services provided include career assessment, career guidance, professional counselling, value-adding training, self-employment support as well as up-to-date labour market information. In 2016, the two centres provided services to 72 661 young people.
Working Holiday Scheme (WHS)
5.34 Since 2001, Hong Kong has established bilateral WHS arrangements with a total of 11 economies, including New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Canada, Korea, France, the United Kingdom (UK), Austria and Hungary. WHS aims to provide an opportunity for our youths aged between 18 and 30 to enrich their global exposure and broaden their horizon, by experiencing foreign culture through living and working temporarily overseas while holidaymaking. At the same time, WHS allows youths of our partner economies to learn more about Hong Kong.
5.35 Save for the UK and Austria which allow our youths to stay for up to 24 months and six months respectively, the remaining nine partners issue working holiday visas to eligible Hong Kong youths to stay in their economies for up to 12 months for holidaying and taking up short-term employment to subsidise their expenses, and/or studying short-term courses (except for Ireland).
5.36 These WHSs have been well received. As of end-2016, around 78 000 Hong Kong youths participated in WHS. LD will continue to enhance the publicity of WHS and explore with more economies to establish new WHS arrangements or seek to expand our existing bilateral arrangements in order to provide more choices and opportunities for our youths to participate in WHS.
Regulating Local Employment Agencies and Employment Outside Hong Kong
5.37 We monitor the operation of employment agencies through licensing, inspection and investigation of complaints. In 2016, we issued 3 158 employment agency licences and revoked five. As at end of 2016, there were 2 978 licensed employment agencies in Hong Kong. A total of 1 816 inspections were made to employment agencies in the year.
5.38 To promote professionalism and quality service in the industry, LD decided to promulgate a Code of Practice for Employment Agencies and conducted a two-month public consultation during April to June 2016 on the draft Code.
5.39 We regulate employment outside the territory to safeguard the interests of local employees engaged by employers outside Hong Kong to work in other territories by attesting all employment contracts entered into in Hong Kong involving manual employees and non-manual employees with monthly wages not exceeding $20,000.
Regulating Labour Importation
Supplementary Labour Scheme (SLS)
5.40 LD administers SLS which operates on the principles of ensuring the priority of local workers in employment while allowing employers with proven local recruitment difficulties to import workers at technician level or below.
5.41 We provide active job matching and referral services for local job seekers to ensure their employment priority. Vacancies under SLS are widely publicised. Local workers can attend tailor-made retraining courses, if appropriate, to better equip themselves to fill the vacancies. Applications from employers who have set restrictive and unreasonable job requirements or who have no sincerity in employing local workers will be rejected.
5.42 As at the end of 2016, there were 4 769 imported workers working in Hong Kong under SLS.
Policy on Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs)
5.43 FDHs have been admitted to work in Hong Kong since the 1970’s. Apart from enjoying the same statutory rights and benefits as all employees in Hong Kong, FDHs are further protected by a written Standard Employment Contract (SEC), which prescribes that the employer has to provide to the FDH free accommodation with reasonable privacy, free food (or food allowance in lieu), free passage to and from the FDH’s place of origin and free medical treatment, etc. FDHs also enjoy wage protection through the Government-prescribed Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW), where employers have to pay FDHs a salary no less than the prevailing MAW when the contracts are signed. The Government attaches great importance to safeguarding their statutory and contractual rights. We spare no efforts in investigating the suspected offence cases and prosecution action will be taken out if there is sufficient evidence.
5.44 In the year, LD widely publicised the rights and benefits of FDHs by conducting various publicity activities, including producing related publications in mother languages of FDHs for distribution, placing advertisements in local newspapers in FDHs’ mother languages, collaborating with respective Consulates-General and attending their briefings for new FDHs, staging information kiosks at FDHs’ popular gathering places to distribute the publicity materials and screen publicity videos, etc. We also broadcasted television and radio Announcements in the Public Interest to raise the public’s awareness of FDHs’ rights and to appeal to employers to treat their FDHs well. In 2016, we published a new leaflet on the respective “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for FDHs, employers and employment agencies and introduced a one-stop on-line platform ( on employment of FDHs. Both the leaflet and the on-line platform are available in major FDHs’ languages so as to facilitate their understanding on their rights and benefits.
5.45 To safeguard the occupational safety of FDHs, LD announced in November 2016 that a clause on cleaning outward-facing windows would be added to SEC for FDHs for contracts signed from 1 January 2017 onwards. Publicity and educational efforts were stepped up to raise the awareness of FDHs and the general public on occupational safety, particularly in respect of the safety precautions to be taken when cleaning outward-facing windows.
5.46 LD also maintains close liaison with governments of FDH home countries and their consulates in Hong Kong, non-governmental organisations serving FDHs and FDH employer groups to discuss matters relating to further protection of FDHs.
5.47 As at the end of 2016, there were 351 513 FDHs in Hong Kong. About 53.8% of the FDHs in Hong Kong were from the Philippines and 43.8% from Indonesia.