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II. What the employer of a local domestic helper must know

A local domestic helper basically enjoys the same rights that any employee enjoys under the Employment Ordinance. Even if the local domestic helpers work on part-time basis, such rights do not falter. However, there is one factor that an employer frequently overlooks: the possibility that the helper may sustain injury during his/her work.

Let’s imagine the following scenario: a local domestic helper came to an employer’s home to do some cleaning and household chores a few times a week. The helper did the work; the employer made the payment; both parties were happy; that sounds simple and straight-forward. Now what if the helper suffers injuries at the employer’s home and claims the employer for damages? And what if the injury is very serious or even fatal? Wouldn’t it be advisable for the employer to get some insurance against such incident?

As a matter of fact, it is not simply advisable to obtain such insurance; it is mandatory. 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.

Under section 40 of the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance ( Chapter 282 of the Laws of Hong Kong), no employer shall employ any employee in any employment unless there is in force in relation to such employee an insurance policy issued by an insurer for an amount not less than the amount specified in the said Ordinance in respect of the liability of the employer. 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 up to HK$100,000 and to imprisonment up to 2 years.

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 to comply with the law and to protect their part-time domestic helpers against the employers’ liability in the course of employment.

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