Eligibility and Procedures for Employing Foreign Domestic Helpers
For every foreign domestic helper (FDH) to be employed, the employer must have a household income of no less than $15,000 per month or assets of comparable amount to support the employment of an FDH for the whole contractual period.
The employer and the FDH must enter into a Standard Employment Contract as specified by the Director of Immigration and apply to the Immigration Department for an employment visa for the FDH.
Obligations Under The Labour Legislation And Standard Employment Contract
Payment of Wages
Employers shall pay wages to their FDHs not less than once every month and in any case not later than seven days after the end of the wage period. Employers can agree with their FDHs regarding the methods of wage payment such as by cheque, bank transfer, cash, etc. but it is advised to pay wages by cheque or bank transfer to obtain payment record for retention. Regardless of the payment method, employers should keep record on wages/payments and ask their FDHs to acknowledge receipt in writing to avoid future disputes.
Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW)
The current MAW for FDHs is $4,730 per month, and this MAW is applicable to all Standard Employment Contracts signed on or after 1 October 2022. Employers must not unilaterally impose or mutually reach a private agreement with their FDHs on a lower wage rate.
Food and Accommodation
Employers shall provide their FDHs with food free of charge or food allowance. The current food allowance rate is $1,196 per month. Also, FDHs shall, during the employment period in Hong Kong, work and reside in their employers’ residence speciﬁed in the contract. The “live-in requirement” is applicable throughout an FDH’s employment period, including the period when he/she is on rest days, statutory holidays and paid annual leave in Hong Kong.
In the event that an FDH is ill or suffers personal injury during the period of employment (except for the period during which the FDH leaves Hong Kong of his/her own volition and for his/her own personal purposes), regardless of whether this arises out of employment, his/her employer shall provide free medical treatment to the FDH, including medical consultation, maintenance in hospital and emergency dental treatment. The FDH shall accept medical treatment by any registered medical practitioner as provided by the employer. Apart from taking out the employees’ compensation insurance, employers shall consider taking out suitable medical insurance to minimise the liability arising from the medical expenses.
Rest Days, Statutory Holidays, Paid Annual Leave and Other Leave Entitlements
FDHs are entitled to rest days, statutory holidays and paid annual leave.
Employers should agree with their FDHs on leave arrangement to accommodate the needs of both parties. Besides, employers should keep records on the FDH’s leave and leave payment received to avoid future disputes.
Rest days: Employers should grant their FDHs not less than one rest day in every period of seven days. A rest day is a continuous period of not less than 24 hours.
Statutory holidays: Employers must grant their FDHs a total of 13 statutory holidays in a year. Under no circumstances shall employers make any form of payment to their FDHs in lieu of granting a statutory holiday.
Paid annual leave: Employers must grant their FDHs paid annual leave for every 12 months that the FDHs have been employed. Entitlement to paid annual leave increases progressively from 7 days to a maximum of 14 days according to an FDH’s length of service.
Severance Payment and Long Service Payment
An employer should pay severance payment to the FDH if he/she has been employed continuously for not less than 24 months and is dismissed (or his/her contract is not renewed) by reason of redundancy.
An employer should pay long service payment to the FDH if he/she has been employed continuously for not less than 5 years and is dismissed (or his/her contract is not renewed) by reason other than serious misconduct of the FDH or redundancy.
However, an employer is not required to pay both long service payment and severance payment to the FDH.
Employees’ Compensation Ordinance (ECO)
Employees’ Compensation Insurance
Employers are required to take out employees’ compensation insurance to cover their liabilities under the law (including the common law) for injuries at work in respect of their FDH.
Occupational Safety and Health
Employers are obliged to provide a safe working environment for FDHs and give them appropriate advice on their personal safety.
The Standard Employment Contract for FDHs includes a clause on cleaning outward-facing windows to safeguard the occupational safety of FDHs. For details, please refer to “Foreign Domestic Helpers - Safety Requirements for Cleaning Outward-facing Windows”. If an employer requests the FDH to clean outward-facing windows in breach of the SEC, the FDH can refuse such request.
Employers are also advised to keep basic first aid items such as adhesive plasters, disinfectants, etc. at home, and inform their FDHs of the storage location and the method of use.
Completion or Premature Termination of Employment Contract
Upon completion or termination of contract, employers should provide their FDHs with the return passage to their places of domicile, as well as clear all outstanding wages and other entitlements under the EO.
Other than completion of contract, either party may terminate the contract by giving one month’s notice in writing or one month’s wages in lieu of notice