1. My part time domestic helper sustained injury when she was working at my home. Am I liable to compensate her?
In Hong Kong, it is compulsory for an employer to be in possession of a valid insurance policy to cover his/her liabilities in respect of work injuries sustained by his/her employees. This also applies to employment of local part-time domestic helpers. An employer who fails to take out an employees' compensation insurance for his/her employee(s) commits a criminal offence and shall be liable to a fine and imprisonment.
There are insurers who provide part-time domestic helper insurance plans on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Employers are advised to make enquires and to take out the relevant employees' compensation insurance policies.
For more details, please visit Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic helper issues > What the employer of a local domestic helper must know.
2. My foreign domestic helper is willing to take a salary less than the minimum allowable wage. Of course I am happy to pay less. Can we make such arrangements?
Every foreign domestic helper is entitled to a monthly salary not less than the minimum allowable wage. An employer who fails to pay the wages due under this employment contract shall be liable to criminal prosecution. Even if a foreign domestic helper agrees to accept a lower wage, an employer cannot pay anything less than the minimum allowable wage. An employer who fails to comply with the standard Employment Contract and pay less than the minimum allowable wage commits an offence. If the employer and the helper agree to a lower wage, both of them may be conspiring to defraud.
If you want to know more, please go to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic helper issues > Minimum allowable wage.
3. My neighbour is travelling abroad. He said that he is happy to "lend" his foreign domestic helper to work for me for a few days. Is it fine to do so?
The standard Employment Contract for foreign domestic helpers expressly states that a foreign domestic helper "shall not take up, and shall not be required by the Employer to take up, any other employment with any other person". In other words, your neighbour cannot "lend" his foreign domestic helper to work part-time at your place, even though you are willing to pay and the helper is happy to earn some extra money.
If the foreign domestic helper breaches this condition of stay, he/she will be liable to criminal prosecution and removal from Hong Kong. The employer, who aids and abets the foreign domestic helper to breach a condition of stay, is also liable to prosecution.
To know more about this topic, please refer to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic helper issues > Other employment engaged by foreign domestic helpers.
4. I do not want to live with my foreign domestic helper. Can I ask her to live elsewhere after work?
No. The standard Employment Contract for foreign domestic helpers provides that the foreign domestic helper shall reside in the employer’s residence. In other words, an employer cannot ask the helper to reside at another place even if the employer is prepared to pay for that.
If employers or helpers breach the undertaking that the helper would work and reside in the employer's residence, such conduct will be taken into consideration in their future foreign domestic helper visa or extension of stay applications. The applications may thus be refused.
Besides, it is an offence to make false representation to Immigration Officers upon the application of domestic helper visa. Offenders are liable to prosecution and to a maximum fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years.
Apart from living arrangement, an employer also has duty to provide food free of charge to the helper.
For more details, please go to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic helper issues > Living and meal arrangements.
5. My foreign domestic helper resigned after working for six months in my home, but she plans to stay in Hong Kong after resignation. Is it legal to do so?
If the employment relationship between an employer and a foreign domestic helper is terminated prior to the expiry of the contracted period (whether it is by notice, by payment in lieu or by immediate termination), both the employer and the foreign domestic helper shall notify the Director of Immigration within seven days of the date of termination.
A foreign domestic helper is permitted to remain in Hong Kong for not more than two weeks after premature termination of the employment contract. If the foreign domestic helper does not leave upon the expiry of stay, he/she will commit an offence for breaching his/her condition of stay.
Since the foreign domestic helper is imported labour invited to work in Hong Kong, an employer shall be responsible for sending him/her back to his/her country of origin upon the termination or expiry of an employment contract by providing him/her with free return passage to his/her place of origin.
To know more about this topic, please refer to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic helper issues > Termination of employment contract.
6. My domestic helper always breaks my dishes. How much money can I deduct from her salary?
The law allows an employer to make deductions for damage or loss to the employer’s goods or property directly attributable to the helper’s negligence or default. This right to deduction, however, is subject to the limit of HK$300 for each damaged item. Further, the total of such deductions shall not exceed one quarter of the wages payable to the helper in that wage period. For example, if you are paying your foreign domestic helper the monthly salary of HK$4,010, and if he/she negligently broke 5 valuable porcelain items (each worth more than HK$300) in a month, you can at most deduct HK$1,002.50 (being one quarter of HK$4,010), not HK$1,500 (being HK$300 x 5 items) from the helper’s salary for this month.
For more information, please refer to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic helper issues > Some other commonly envisaged issues > A. Deduction of wages?
7. I suspect that my domestic helper is stealing from my home. I want to install CCTV to monitor her, but I am also worried about privacy issues.
The living room of your home can be considered a "public" place. Therefore, a camera installed at the living room should not infringe the privacy of anyone. However, of course you cannot install a camera inside any bathroom or the domestic helper's private room; that would certainly be an infringement of privacy.
If you have concrete evidence that your domestic helper has abused your child or has stolen your property, do not hesitate to report the case to the police. These are criminal activities and should not be pardoned nor be settled by private means.
To know more about this, please go to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Domestic helper issues > Some other commonly envisaged issues > B. Installation of camera inside your home and C. Child abuse or theft.