Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong are protected by law and the Standard Employment Contract — no other paperwork — is the only document recognized by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region when it comes to employment of domestic helpers. Therefore, it is very important that both employers and helpers understood the terms and conditions set forth in this legally binding contract document.
Under the Standard Employment Contract, foreign domestic helpers are entitled to:
- A Minimum Allowable Wage – HK$4,310.
- Wages should be paid not later than 7 days after the end of wage period defined in the contract.
- Food allowance if no food is provided by the employer
- Free accommodation
- Free passage to and from their place of origin
- Free medical treatment, including medical consultation, maintenance in hospital and emergency dental treatment
- Paid or unpaid home leave with cost of passage at the expense of the employer
Underpayment of Wages
If salary a domestic worker receives is less than the amount stipulated in the employment contract, the helper should
- clarify the correct amount with the employer
- NOT acknowledge receipt of wages not yet paid
- report to the Labour Department as soon as possible in case of underpayment
Deduction of Wages
Sometimes helpers may damage or lose items of the employer. Deduction of wages is not allowed except:
- Due to negligence or default of the helper. In each case deductable amount should not exceed HK$300;
- Absence from work not exceeding a sum proportionate to the period of absence;
- Recovery of advance or over-payment of wages; and
- Recovery of loan made to the helper with the helper’s written request, etc.
Total deductions, excluding those for absence from work, must not exceed one half of the wages payable in that wage period.
A foreign domestic helper should have at least 1 rest day in every period of 7 days and may work voluntarily on a rest day.
An employer must not compel a helper to work on a rest day.
A foreign domestic helper is entitled to:
- 12 statutory holidays in a year; and
- holiday pay if he/she has already been employed for 3 months preceding any of the statutory holidays.
Payment in lieu of granting a statutory holiday is not permitted. If a statutory holiday falls on a rest day, a holiday should be granted on the day following the rest day. An alternative holiday should be arranged within 60 days before or after the statutory holiday if the foreign domestic helper is required to work on the holiday.
A foreign domestic helper is entitled to paid annual leave after serving every period of 12 months with the same employer at the following rate:
- 7 days each for the first and second year of service; and
- starting from the third year, the number increases by 1 day per year up to a maximum of 14 days.
A foreign domestic helper is entitled to sickness allowance if he/she:
- has accumulated the number of paid sickness days;
- the sick leave taken is not less than 4 consecutive days; and
- the sick leave is supported by an appropriate medical certificate.
The daily rate of sickness allowance is a sum equivalent to four-fifths of the average daily wages of the helper. It should be paid not later than the normal pay day.
An employer is prohibited from dismissing the helper on his/her paid sickness days, except in the case of the employee’s serious misconduct.
Termination of Employment Contract
Either party may terminate the employment contract by giving one month’s notice or one month’s wages in lieu of notice to the other party.
Termination payments may include:
- outstanding wages;
- wages in lieu of notice, if any;
- payment in lieu of any untaken annual leave;
- long service payment/severance payment, where appropriate; and
- any other sum under the employment contract, e.g. free return passage, food and traveling allowance, etc.
A foreign domestic helper is entitled to severance payment if he/she:
- has not less than 24 months of service with the same employer prior to the termination; and
- is dismissed or the contract is not being renewed by reason of redundancy.
Long Service Payment
A foreign domestic helper is entitled to long service payment if he/she has no less than 5 years of service with the same employer prior to the termination and:
- is dismissed or the contract is not being renewed by reason other than
- serious misconduct or redundancy;
- resigns on ground of ill health;
- resigns on ground of old age (i.e. aged 65 or above); or
- dies in service.
Amount of severance payment or long service payment
Long service payment = Monthly wages x 2/3 x years of service
Service of incomplete year should be calculated on a pro rata basis.
A foreign domestic helper is only entitled to either severance payment or long service payment.
The above information sets out only the highlights of the major statutory and contractual provisions with which foreign domestic helpers are commonly concerned.
For details of your employment rights and benefits, please refer to the “Practical Guide for Employment of Foreign Domestic Helpers” or “A Concise Guide to the Employment Ordinance” which are available at the
branch offices of the Labour Relations Division of the Labour Department.
Enquiry Hotline: 2-71-71-771(the hotline is handled by “1823”)
Homepage Address: http://www.labour.gov.hk
Enquiry in person to Offices of the Labour Relations Division: