Hiring a domestic helper to help with domestic chores is quite common in Hong Kong. Many expats, when they first arrive, are reluctant to hire a helper because they are not used to sharing their living space with a stranger. Often, however, they change their minds or get used to the idea after a few months in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government allows the hiring of full time foreign domestic helpers as well as legal part-time helpers and offers a comprehensive guide book which outlines all the various details for hiring one. This guide book is a must read if you are planning to hire a domestic helper during your stay in Hong Kong.
The vast majority of full-time domestic helpers are migrant workers from the Philippines, although Indonesians, Sri Lankans and Thais are also common. Many local and expat families hire them to handle the day-to-day household chores, including cleaning, washing, laundry, and cooking, as well as taking care of children and pets. Domestic helpers, by law, are not allowed to drive your vehicle.
Under Hong Kong law, you need to have a minimum monthly household income of HK$15,000 in order to hire a foreign helper. They are employed in Hong Kong on a two-year contract, and must be paid at least the legal minimum wage of HK$3,580 per month.
Under the employment contract, the employer (who is the legal sponsor) is also expected to pay for the round-trip air-fare from her home country, passport and visa fees, food, housing, health insurance and medical expenses. The maid must live with the sponsoring employer, in the same home, for the duration of the contract. The employer is also required to ensure that the living conditions are acceptable and that the helper enjoys a suitable level of privacy. Many apartments in Hong Kong come equipped with a ‘maid’s room’ specifically for this purpose.
Domestic helpers are entitled to one day off every week, as well as public holidays and paid annual leave of 7 days a year. They are also entitled to sick leave and maternity leave. If you need your helper to work on her day off, you have to give her an additional day off within two months.
Helpers can be hired through an agency or through transfer referrals (maids who have completed contracts with their employers). Many expats try to find a new workplace for their helpers when they leave Hong Kong. You can find these referrals either at bulletin boards in supermarkets or from classified ads on online expat forums such as GeoExpat.com.
Bear in mind that your helper will be living and interacting with your family on a daily basis, so it is important to conduct interviews for prospective employees to gauge her communication skills and how she will fit into your family.
Besides saving on the agency fee, one advantage of hiring a maid who is transferring from another family is being able to speak to her prior employer to get a better idea of what to expect.
However, hiring directly also means you will have to take care of all the administrative formalities yourself, such as applying for a work visa through the Hong Kong Immigration Department (http://www.immd.gov.hk/) and arranging for health insurance and a full medical check-up for her.
Note that a copy of the medical report should be submitted together with the visa application. It is also crucial that you ensure the helper you employ has a ‘release paper’ from her previous employer, otherwise both you and the maid would be breaking the law. If a helper is let go by her employers before her term with them is complete due to their relocation to another country or due to a change in their financial circumstances the employers have to immediately inform the immigration department. They then usually have to give the maid a month’s notice before they terminate her for these reasons. After her last day of employment, the helper has fourteen extra days during which can stay on in Hong Kong and look for another employer who is willing to take over her visa and sponsor her. If she is unable to do so she is required by law to return to her place of origin and await a new contract and visa.
All these websites mentioned above offer classifieds posted by domestic helpers looking for jobs in Hong Kong. Many of these classifieds carry the contact details of the helper but Asiaexpat.com requires you to pay a fee of HK$200 per month if you want to contact any of the domestic helpers on their website. Asiaexpat.com also has its own agency for domestic helpers which is run by a lady called Evelyn who can be contacted at 3579 5375/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
An agency usually charges about HK$3,500, or one month of the helper’s salary. They will manage all legal and visa paperwork on your behalf, and will also arrange for medical check-ups and health insurance for the maid.
You are also likely to have a wider selection of prospective employees as most maid agencies have hundreds of domestic helpers on their books, with profiles of the maids as well as their photos or videos. Many have websites where you can browse through hundreds of potential candidates.
Look for established agencies that have been in business for at least five years. They should have staff members who speak the native languages of the maids they represent, and provide training such as cooking local/Western dishes, English-language courses, first-aid training, etc. Reputable agencies will also help to resolve any conflicts or misunderstandings between the employer and the foreign helper. They will also draw up a professional service contract, which offers a guaranteed replacement during a trial employment period, in the event that your helper does not work out.
|Sunlight Employment Agency||http://www.sunlight-hk.com.hk||Unit 02-03, 6/F Commercial House
35 Queen’s Road Central
Tel: 2869 7711
|Energetic Employment Agency||http://eeagency.portfolio.anywhere.com.hk/english/home/index.htm||Room 240, 2/F, 7 Seas Shopping Center
121 King’s Road
Tel: 2893 4424
|Amahnet||http://www.amahnet.com||Shop 2013, 2/F United Centre
95 Queensway, Admiralty
Tel: 2869 9330
|Wellmark Employment Services||http://www.housemaid.com.hk||Room 901, 9/F Hollywood Plaza
610 Nathan Road, Mongkok
Tel: 2139 2828
|C.U. Consultant and Employment Services||Room 402, 4th Floor, Hart Avenue Plaza, 5-9 Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Tel:9340 2002|
For more information:
Tel: 2824 6111
Tel: 2717 1771
Domestic helpers employed part-time usually do not cook, but will do general household chores such as cleaning, ironing and babysitting. They typically work for a few hours each time (usually in slots of four hours), once or twice a week.
Part-time maids in Hong Kong are required by law to have legal status i.e. be permanent residents or citizens though many foreign domestic workers also try and work part-time illegally. Part-time maids are usually Philipinos, Thais or Indonesians and they are generally quite capable of speaking in English. Local Chinese helpers, known as ‘amahs’ are highly coveted by Hong Kongers for their Cantonese speaking sills, but they are more expensive and are increasingly rare these days. The market rate for part-time helpers is about HK$60-$70 an hour with higher rates for trained baby nurses and the like. If, however, you happen to reside in an inaccessible area, you may be expected to reimburse the helper’s travel expenses.
In addition to agencies, you can hire part-time helpers through word-of-mouth referrals from friends or other expats, via bulletin boards at supermarkets or through forums such as GeoExpat.com. Whichever method you choose, remember it is crucial to ensure that the helper is in Hong Kong legally; in other words, she should be a permanent resident or citizen and does not require an employment visa.
|Merry Maids||http://www.merrymaids.com.hk||Tel: 2857 4038||Yes||No|
|HomeEasy Services||http://www.homeasy.com.hk||Tel: 2776 2900||Yes||Yes|
|World Champ International||http://www.1maidhk.com||Tel: 2590 9328||Yes||Yes|
|Rent-A-Mum||http://www.rent-a-mum.com||Tel: 2523 4868||No||Yes|
|Sparkle Maid||Tel: 2239 4882||Yes||No|
Some expats who have their own cars choose to employ drivers. The foreign domestic helpers who are in Hong Kong on a two year work visa are not permitted to drive when they are working as domestic helpers. If you wish to hire a driver in Hong Kong you need to employ a driver who is a legal permanent resident or citizen of Hong Kong. The same employment agencies who specialize in the hire of domestic helpers can also help with the hiring of a driver. The salary of a driver in Hong Kong is usually upwards of HKD$6000 a month. If your domestic helper is able to drive, has a Hong Kong driver’s license and you would like he/she to perform driving duties, then you need get special permission from the immigration department.