HKCTU warns against eight working holiday traps

source: Ejinsight (

Many young people are attracted to join working holiday schemes which allow them to travel overseas while getting paid for temporary work during their visit.

However, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) has warned that some of those schemes, especially those run by unauthorized parties, may end up in a bad experience for participants.
The HKCTU cited the case of a couple, Ar Wah and Mandy, who joined a working holiday trip to Australia last year.

Instead of enjoying the experience, the two encountered various forms of exploitation, including receiving no payment for their work, living in poor accommodation, and having their passports retained, Metro Daily reported on Monday.
Mon Siu-tak, program executive of HKCTU, said their experiences were not uncommon.

Those wanting to go on a working holiday trip should watch out for eight common traps, Mon said. These are illegal employment, false self-employment, unpaid probationary period, underemployment, underpayment, delayed payments, overcharging of agency fees, and payment of wages by installment.

Ar Tai, who has visited Australia under a working holiday program, said job seekers should deal only with licensed agencies and those with good reputation.
It is better to transact with people who speak English, Ar Tai said, adding that based on his experience, Chinese-speaking recruiters are often only after illegal workers.

He also said having a local driving license is helpful to overcome difficulties in transportation, and allows one to spend more time at a place to meet with the locals and explore other job opportunities.
HKCTU said the group is cooperating with the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) and the National Union of Workers (NUW) on working holidays.

Last month the Hong Kong union signed an agreement with the NUW on providing assistance to Hong Kong youngsters during their working holidays in Australia.

Hong Kong visitors could also seek assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman and other relevant employees’ unions.