14 Rights of Every Hong Kong Domestic Helper Should Remember Before Signing New Contract
Under the Standard Employment Contract for foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, they are accorded with rights and protection under the law. So before signing the contract and start employment in Hong Kong as a foreign domestic worker, these are the things one should remember.
1. Every foreign domestic helper employed in Hong Kong is entitled to the following compensation / benefits:
- Minimum wage of HK$4,310 (Clause 5(a) of the contract)
- Food allowance if employer chooses not to provide food (Clause 5(b))
- Free accommodation, whether within employer’s home or outside quarters (Clause 5(b))
- Free air trip from country of origin to Hong Kong and back (Clause 7(a))
- Free medical treatment, medical consultation, maintenance in hospital and emergency dental treatment (Clause 9(a))
- Paid or unpaid home leave with cost of passage at the expense of the employer (Clause 13)
2. Domestic helpers must be paid not less than the prevailing Minimum Allowable Wage at the time of contract signing.
All foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong should be paid not less than the Minimum Allowable Wage of HK$4,310 per month if their employment contracts are made on or after 1 October 2016 (unless amended by law in the future).
3. Wages to domestic helpers must be paid not later than 7 days after the end of wage period or date of termination of contract.
If a domestic helper is to be paid every 10th of every month, she should expect to be paid no later than the 17th of that month. Otherwise, the employer is subject to a fine of HK$350,000 and to imprisonment for three years.
4. If employer pays less than the prescribed minimum allowable wage stipulated in the contract, domestic helper should immediately clarify the correct amount with employer.
She should also not acknowledge receipt of payment for unpaid wages; do not sign anything implying that you are already paid even if you haven’t received your salary. If employer doesn’t settle the correct amount at once, this is a serious offense and domestic helper should contact the Labor Department hotline 2717 1771 as soon as possible.
5. If a domestic helper causes damage or loss of employer’s goods or property due to negligence, deduction to salary is only up to HK$300.
6. Deduction of salary is also possible due to absence at work, recovery of past overpayment of wages and recovery of a loan granted to the helper upon the helper’s written consent.
7. Foreign domestic helpers should have at least one rest day for every seven days.
If asked to work, helper may work voluntarily. Employer must not compel a helper to work during rest day.
8. Foreign domestic helpers are entitled to 12 statutory holidays in a year.
The helper is entitled a holiday pay if he or she has already been employed for three months before any of the statutory holidays. Likewise, payment in lieu of granting a statutory holiday is not permitted.
If a statutory holiday falls on a rest day / domestic helper’s day off, a holiday should be granted on the following 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.
9. Foreign domestic helpers are entitled to paid annual leave after serving a period of 12 months with the same employer under the following arrangements:
- First 12 months of service: 7 days
- Second 12 months of service: 7 days
- Starting from third year of service, number of days increases by one per year up to a maximum of 14 days
10. Foreign domestic helpers are entitled to sickness allowance if he or 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.
11. An employer is prohibited from dismissing the helper on his/her paid sickness days, except in the case of the employee’s serious misconduct.
12. Both employer and foreign domestic worker can terminate an employment contract by giving one month’s notice or one month’s payment in lieu of notice to the other party.
Termination payments may include:
- outstanding wages;
- payment 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.
13. A foreign domestic helper is entitled to a severance payment if he or she has served not less than 24 months of service to the same employer prior to termination; and is dismissed or the contract is not being renewed by reason of redundancy.
14. A foreign domestic helper is entitled to a long service payment if he or she has served no less than five years of service to the same employer prior to termination of contract; 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 = Monthly wages x 2/3 x years of service
However, a foreign domestic helper is only entitled to either severance payment or long service payment.