Hong Kong Domestic Helper
If your income and accommodation size allows you to hire a Hong Kong Domestic Helper ('helper'), you will find her invaluable. Many domestic helpers will have worked in Hong Kong before, so they will have a wealth of local experience to offer a recently arrived family. She will be able to help you set up and run your home, leaving the family free to spend their free time enjoying 'quality time'. From what you have read in the Work and Spouses pages you will realize that 'quality time' has a premium in Hong Kong and you don't want to spend it in Park'n'Shop or Welcome Supermarkets. As socializing through work or members clubs is either 'expected' or part of the 'settling in' process, the availability of in-house childcare is invaluable.
You'll realize how many domestic helpers there are in Hong Kong when you walk through Central on a Sunday and see hundreds of maids sitting around enjoying their day off.
Finding a Domestic Helper in Hong Kong
The best way to find a helper is through a referral. Helpers, or their departing employers on behalf of the helper, often place advertisements on club notice boards, on internet forums or in Dollarsaver. You can also set up a thread asking for a recommendation on one of the internet forums (see links). Helpers found in these ways will be resident in Hong Kong, but they may have to return to their country of origin for a couple of weeks prior to taking up their contract with you.
If these sources don't work for you there are agencies that can help you arrange a remote-hire from the helper's country of origin. Although you won't have to pay the helper the premium over the minimum wage that most HK-experienced helpers will ask for, you don't get the chance of conducting an interview or speaking to a past HK-employer. You won't be able to gauge her interaction with your family or her understanding of Western hygiene, etiquette or cooking. If hiring a helper sounds daunting go on a Domestic Helper Management course at the YWCA first. They also offer courses for helpers in Western cooking, childcare etc.
An Orientation consultant can help you find, interview and secure the services of a domestic helper. Refer to the Contact Us page.
Hiring a Domestic Helper
The Hong Kong Government have posted a sample Domestic Helper contract, a guidance handbook and a detailed guide on-line. You will need to get a hardcopy pack containing duplicate contracts and multiple enclosures in order to submit an application to employ and sponsor a domestic helper. The main points to note are:
- You must be financially capable of supporting a helper. In general, for every helper employed you must have an income of HK$15,000 pm or assets of more that $350,000. The helper must be provided with suitable accommodation with reasonable privacy. See the accommodation page.
- A helper must be employed under the standard non-transferable contract, for a single employer to perform live-in domestic duties only. The contract excludes any type of driving. Either party may terminate under certain circumstances.
- The contract is for a 6-day week over two years at a minimum pay rate of $3,400 pm plus a minimum food allowance of $300 pm.
- Statutory holidays are paid after 3 months of employment. Paid annual holiday is mandatory after one year of service. Holiday entitlement starts at 7 days per year worked and increases by length of service to a maximum of 2 weeks pa.
- A non-refundable government levy of $400 pm is payable in advance for the full term, or split over 4 instalments. Should your helper leave, you can offset any unused part of your advance payments against the levy payable for a replacement helper.
- At the end of the contract period the helper has to return to her country of origin at your expense (i.e. you pay the airfare and $100 pd subsistence).
- Remember that your helper has rights relating to sickness, maternity (10 weeks paid leave after 40 weeks of service), severance, long service and general employment.
- Sickness entitlement can be accrued at the rate of 2 days per month in the first year, rising to 4 days pm thereafter up to a maximum of 120 days. Sick pay is payable after 4 or more consecutive days of illness at 80% of full salary.