Monday, April 1, 2024

14 Domestic Helper Rights Every HK Worker Should Know

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The Standard Employment Contract provides foreign domestic helper rights in Hong Kong. This is guaranteed with protection under the law. So before signing the contract and starting employment in Hong Kong as a foreign domestic worker, these are the things one should remember.

Every household service worker is entitled to certain benefits

  • The minimum wage of HK$4,870 (Clause 5(a) of the contract)
  • Food allowance if the employer chooses not to provide food (Clause 5(b))
  • Free accommodation, whether within the 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 the cost of passage at the expense of the employer (Clause 13)

Domestic helpers must be paid not less than the mandated wages.

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All foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong should be paid not less than the Minimum Allowable Wage of HK$4,870 per month if their employment contracts are made (unless amended by law in the future).

Wages must be paid not later than 7 days after the end of the wage period.

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 imprisonment for three years.

The domestic worker must seek clarification if the employer pays less wage than mandated by law.
Underpayment is a serious offense and the domestic helper should contact the Labor Department hotline 2717 1771 as soon as possible.

Damage or loss of employer’s goods or property is subject to a deduction of only up to HK$300.

Domestic helper rights should be observed and upheld.
Domestic helper rights should be observed and upheld.

Deduction of salary is also possible due to absence at work and recovery of wages is upon helper’s written consent.

Foreign domestic helpers should have at least one rest day every seven days.

If asked to work, the helper may work voluntarily. Employers must not compel a helper to work during the rest days.

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 instead of granting a statutory holiday is not permitted.

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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.

Domestic workers are entitled to paid annual leave after serving 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 the third year of service, the number of days increases by one per year up to a maximum of 14 days

Domestic helpers are entitled to sickness allowance if he or she:

  • has accumulated the number of paid sick 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 no later than the normal payday.

An employer is not allowed to dismiss a helper on his/her paid sickness days, except on serious misconduct.

Both employer and foreign domestic worker can terminate an employment contract.

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This can be accomplished by giving one month’s notice or one month’s payment in place of notice to the other party. Termination payments may include:

  • outstanding wages;
  • payment instead of notice, if any;
  • payment in place 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 domestic worker is entitled to a severance payment if he or she has served not less than 24 months of service to the same employer.

After five years of service, the domestic helper is entitled to a long service payment

This applies to employment to the same employer and before termination of the contract, and employment is dismissed or the contract is not being renewed by reason other than serious misconduct or redundancy;

  • resigns on grounds of ill health;
  • resigns on the 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.

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