Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Foreign Domestic Helpers
- General Remarks
- Eligibility Criteria for Employment of an FDH
- Employment Rights and Obligations Upon Termination of Contract in General
- Restrictions on Deployment
- Driving Duties
- Change of Residential Address
- Termination of Contract
- Levy for Employment of FDHs
- New Arrangements for Submission of Applications from Foreign Domestic Helpers for Extension of Stay Sponsored by the Same Employer
For more information on the employment rights and obligation in relation to employment of foreign domestic helpers, please refer to Labour Department's website at the following address: http://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/plan/FAQ.htm)
Under prevailing policy, an FDH should only provide full-time, live-in domestic services at his/her employer's residence and to serve the number of members of the employer's household as stated in the Standard Employment Contract (the Contract) (ID407). It is specified in Clause 4(a) of the Contract that an FDH should only perform domestic duties for the employer as listed in the "Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties" (the Schedule) attached to the Contract. Clause 4(b) of the Contract provides that the FDH shall not take up, and shall not be required by the employer to take up, any other employment, including part-time domestic duties, with any other person. Clause 4(c) makes it clear that Clauses 4(a) and (b) will form part of the conditions of stay to be imposed on the FDH by the Immigration Department upon the FDH's admission to work in Hong Kong under the Contract. It is also clearly stipulated that a breach of the conditions of stay will render the helper and/or any aider and abettor liable to criminal prosecution.
The prevailing policy seeks to balance the interests of the FDHs, their employers and the community at large. It would be unfair to the FDHs if employers are given the right to deploy them to perform non-domestic duties or to work for other persons in other premises. This would also deprive job opportunities for local domestic helpers who may readily take up part-time domestic work. As regards the employers, they enjoy fairly convenient and easy access to the services of FDHs at present. Had it not been for the safeguards afforded by the requirements mentioned in (1) above, it might be necessary to tighten the admission criteria for FDHs. Employers also have the choice of engaging local domestic helpers who are more flexible performing different duties and/or work in different locations.
Since domestic duties are sundry in types, it is unrealistic to list all domestic duties in detail and exhaustively here or in the Contract, although the broad categories of domestic duties are listed in the Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties attached to the Contract.
Whether a particular activity/situation would constitute a breach of the FDH's conditions of stay and whether aiding and abetting is involved in the case is a matter of fact to be determined having regards to all circumstances of a particular case. In case of doubt, applicants may specify their particular needs/circumstances in paragraph 5 of the Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties for consideration and approval by the Director of Immigration. However, these particular needs or circumstances should be within the ambit of genuine domestic duties arising from or incidental to serving the employer's household.
The conditions of stay in respect of an FDH apply only whilst the FDH is in Hong Kong. If the FDH follows the employer to go abroad on a mutual consent basis, the parties to the Contract are reminded to observe the relevant visa requirements, laws and regulations of the destination country/territory. Particular attention should be drawn to the insurance arrangements. If the FDH gets injured at work in the destination country/territory, he/she may claim compensation in accordance with the employees' compensation law of that country/territory.
Respect and reasonableness of both sides are conducive to a long-term and harmonious employment relationship.
Eligibility Criteria for Employment of an FDH
Any Hong Kong resident who can satisfy the following criteria may employ an FDH:
- he/she is financially capable of employing an FDH;
- he/she has entered into a Standard Employment Contract(ID407) as specified by the Director of Immigration with the prospective helper;
- he/she will require the prospective helper to perform domestic duties only;
- he/she will not allow or require the prospective helper to take up any employment with any other person during the contractual period as specified in the employment contract;
- he/she will pay the helper a salary no less than the minimum allowable wage as announced by the HKSAR Government;
- he/she will let the helper work and reside at the contractual address only;
- he/she will provide the helper with decent accommodation and suitable privacy;
- he/she is a bona fide resident in Hong Kong and the bona fides of him/her and the prospective helper are not in doubt;
- he/she has no adverse record in respect of employment of FDH.
Details of eligibility criteria are stated in Guidebook for the Employment of Domestic Helpers from Abroad.
The Director of Immigration will assess the eligibility of the applications as per the criteria given in the guidebook. Those who are considered ineligible may request for reconsideration through the channel provided in the written notification.
You must ensure that both the application forms for employing a domestic helper from abroad and for an entry visa are duly completed and are enclosed with all supporting documents, including a completed contract (notarized by the relevant consulate, if required). Applications without any of the two application forms or any necessary supporting documents will be returned and no further action will be taken until all the application forms and necessary documents are re-submitted.
Upon receipt of the application, the Immigration Department will send an acknowledgement letter to you. Alternatively, you may submit your application by registered mail. The Immigration Department will regard the date of the postal chop on the envelope as the date of application.
The Immigration Department's performance pledge for FDH applications is that 90% of the applications will be finalized within 6 weeks upon receipt of all necessary documents.
Yes. Except for the countries not requiring notarization of FDH employment contracts, all contracts have to be notarized before FDHs are approved to work in Hong Kong.
According to the Standard Employment Contract (ID407), an FDH should enjoy his/her home leave upon completion of his/her 2-year employment contract. If he/she wishes to continue to work as FDHs in Hong Kong, he/she should apply for an entry visa to enter Hong Kong to commence the new contract. Starting from 1 October 2003, all FDHs applying for renewal of contract will be granted a visa if their applications are approved. In case the employer can release him/her to take home leave, there is no need for the FDH to apply for extension of stay. Extension of stay is only required when the employer cannot make such arrangement immediately.
A8: The minimum allowable wage (MAW) is subject to periodic reviews
by the Labour and Welfare Bureau; and public announcement will be
made by them when there is a change or when they decide to maintain
the wage level. For information on the prevailing MAW, you may refer
to Labour Department's website at the following address:
http://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/public/wcp/FDHguide.pdf (PDF format)
No. Government's policy is that FDHs employed by local employers must be paid a wage not lower than the MAW. In line with this policy, the Director of Immigration will not approve the entry of an FDH whose wage as stated in the Standard Employment Contract (ID407) is less than the MAW. After signing a contract which specifies a wage at or above the MAW, an employer cannot subsequently agree with the helper to pay a wage lower than the MAW. An employer who underpays wages is liable, upon conviction under the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57), to a maximum fine of HK$350,000 and three years' imprisonment. The employer may also be committing serious offences of making false representation to an Immigration Officer and conspiracy to defraud. Any person convicted of making false representation under the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115) is liable to a maximum fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years. Any person convicted of the offence of conspiracy to defraud (under the Common Law and punishable under the Crimes Ordinance) is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.
The current MAW for FDHs is $4,010 per month, which has been effective since 1 October 2013. The new MAW is applicable to all FDH employment contracts signed on or after 1 October 2013.
FDH employment contracts signed on or before 30 September at a wage level not lower than the then prevailing MAW of $3,920 per month will still be processed by the Immigration Department (ImmD) on such wage terms, provided that the applications would have reached ImmD on or before 28 October 2013. This is to allow time for employers whose contracts signed on or before 30 September to complete the necessary procedures before submitting their applications to ImmD.
Employment Rights and Obligations Upon Termination of Contract in General
The Labour Department has issued a "Practical Guide for Employment of FDHs - What FDH and their Employers Should Know" (PDF format), covering answers to some of the common questions raised by FDHs and their employers and containing information such as wages, rest days and leaves, medical attention and sickness allowance, maternity protection, severance payment and long service payment, employment protection, termination of contract, passage and food and travelling allowance, etc. The Guide is available in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Tagalog and Thai and is disseminated free of charge at the offices of Labour Relations Division of the Labour Department.
As stated in Clause 8 of the Standard Employment Contract(ID407), an employer of FDH is responsible for the expenses incurred by the FDH for his/her departure from his/her place of origin and entry into Hong Kong, including medical examination fees, authentication fees by the relevant Consulate, visa fee, insurance fee, administration fee or other fees of similar nature imposed by the relevant government authorities. In the event that the FDH has paid the said fees, employer should fully reimburse his/her FDH the amount so paid upon demand and production of the corresponding receipts or documentary evidence of payment.
Foreign domestic helpers enjoy the same protection under the Employment Ordinance (EO) as do local employees. They are further entitled to the rights and benefits specified in their standard employment contract. An employer who intends to terminate the employment contract of a helper is required to give the helper one month's prior notice in writing or one month's wages in lieu of notice as well as other termination payments, which include -
- all outstanding wages;
- payment in lieu of any untaken annual leave, and any pro rata annual leave pay for the current leave year;
- payment in lieu of any untaken statutory holidays;
- where appropriate, long service payment or severance payment; and
- any other sum due to the helper in respect of the employment contract e.g. free return passage, food and travelling allowance.
Restrictions on Deployment
An FDH is admitted into Hong Kong for full-time, live-in employment with a specific employer to perform domestic duties at the employer's residence specified in the Standard Employment Contract(the Contract) (ID407). It is provided in Clause 4(a) of the Contract that an FDH should only perform domestic duties for the employer specified in the Contract. The employer should not require or allow the FDH to carry out any non-domestic work. It is also stated in Clause 4(b) that the FDH should not take up any other employment, including part-time domestic duties, with any other person. The employer should not require or allow the FDH to carry out any work for any other person. Clause 4(c) of the Contract stipulates that Clauses 4(a) and (b) will form part of the conditions of stay to be imposed on the FDH by the Immigration Department upon the FDH' s admission to work in Hong Kong. A breach of Clauses 4(a) and (b) will render the helper and/or any aider and abettor liable to criminal prosecution.
No. It is specified in Clause 3 of the Standard Employment Contract(ID407) that an FDH shall work and reside in the employer's residence at a specified address. It is also stated in Clause 4(a) that an FDH should only perform domestic duties as specified in the "Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties" attached to the Contract. The employer's residence refers to a single household in one location and it is therefore not permissible to include a second address in the Contract. Please also see GR2 above.
No. The FDH should only perform domestic duties for the employer's household at the address specified in Clause 3 of the Standard Employment Contract (ID407). Deploying an FDH to work in an elderly home cannot be regarded as genuine domestic duties and is therefore not permissible. Having said that, simple delivery of food or sundry items to a member of the same household who is temporarily hospitalised does not warrant intervention of the law enforcement agencies.
Please see GR5.
No. An FDH is admitted into Hong Kong for employment with a specific employer under a Standard Employment Contract (ID407). He/She is not employable by other employers without prior permission of the Director of Immigration. You may consider employing a local domestic helper while your FDH is on leave. The Labour Department Local Domestic Helper Recruitment Hotline is 2503 3377. Hotline for "Smart Living" administered by the Employees Retraining Board is 182 182.
No. An FDH is permitted to work with the contractual employer as approved by the Director of Immigration. If your FDH takes up unapproved employment with any other person, he/she will breach the condition of stay imposed on him/her. He/She will be liable to prosecution and subsequent removal, and his/her future employment application will be subject to close scrutiny. Any person who aids and abets an FDH to breach a condition of stay is also liable to prosecution. Upon conviction, the maximum penalty will be a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for 2 years.
FDHs are admitted into Hong Kong for full-time, live-in employment with a specific employer under a Standard Employment Contract (ID407), the terms and conditions of which are enforceable in Hong Kong and governed by the Laws of Hong Kong, in particular, the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57), the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115) and the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282). The request for amendment of the contractual address cannot be acceded to in the event that the employer has been relocated outside Hong Kong. If you want to keep the FDH to work for your parent, arrangements should be made for a new contract to be signed between your parent and the FDH and an application should be made to the Immigration Department for change of employer.
In the event of temporary arrangement, it is important that you reach a mutual agreement with your FDH as to whether he/she would agree to accompany you to go abroad or remain in your contractual address to take care of your residence/household whilst you are not in Hong Kong. Please also see GR5.
No. Clause 3 of the Standard Employment Contract (ID407) stipulates that an FDH shall work and reside in the employer's residence specified in the contract. In general, Immigration Department may consider accepting the financial proof provided by the employer's child in support of the application for employing an FDH made by an aged parent. In the event that the parent is not capable of acting as an employer due to health or other justifiable reasons, his/her child should state clearly the special circumstances and produce relevant supporting documents. Each case will be dealt with on its individual merits.
Please refer to A17. In general, it is permissible for your FDH to visit your mother in the hospital, bringing daily necessities to her as required. However, the FDH has no contractual obligation to take care of the sick at a hospital on a long-term basis. The employer may also be personally liable to pay employees' compensation or common law damages in case the FDH gets injured whilst performing such extra duties at the hospital, in which case the standard insurance policy may not apply.
No. If the employer has moved to a new address, he/she should inform the Immigration Department of such change in accordance with Clauses 15(b) & (c) of the contract. The employer should not require or allow the FDH to perform domestic work at any address other than the contractual address even if the premises may be the property of the same employer. Offenders will be liable to criminal prosecution and on conviction to a fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for 2 years. Any aider and abetter will be liable to the same punishment. Please also see GR2.
In general, an FDH is not contractually obligated to perform massage service for the employer as such service is generally not regarded as domestic duties. However, it is permissible for FDHs to help handicapped or paralyzed parent of the employer to perform regular movements of their limbs as part of the domestic duties of taking care of a household member. Please also see GR3 and GR4.
An FDH should only perform domestic duties for the employer specified in the Standard Employment Contract (ID407) and at the contractual address. The FDH should advise the employer accordingly. He/she should refuse to perform such duties. If the employer insists, an FDH may approach the Immigration Department for assistance.
It is advisable for the FDH to discuss with the employer with a view to reaching a mutual understanding on the types of household duties she may perform during pregnancy. Please see GR6. If needed, the FDH may also approach the Labour Department for advice on matters relating to the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57).
No. An FDH should work and reside in the employer's residence in accordance with Clause 3 of the Standard Employment Contract (ID407). The employer is required to provide the FDH with free accommodation as per the standard specified in the "Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties" of the employment contract.
(Employers who have obtained the Director of Immigration's approval before 1 April 2003 to let their FDHs live out can continue to do so, so long as they continue to employ FDHs without a break of more than 6 months.)
No. It is an offence under the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115) for an FDH to take up any employment with any person other than the employer named in his/her visa. The FDH will be liable to prosecution and removal for breaching the conditions of stay. Upon conviction, the maximum penalty is a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for 2 years. If the FDH is so removed, his/her future application to work in Hong Kong will be subject to close scrutiny.
The contract with the deceased employer is no longer valid on the date of his/her death. The FDH is required to give the Director of Immigration notice in writing within seven days of the date of termination and to leave Hong Kong in two weeks. If the FDH would like to work for the employer's spouse or family members, he/she has to submit an application for change of employment sponsored by the spouse or a family member within two weeks from the date of such termination. The Immigration Department will process these applications expeditiously.
An employer should not require or allow the FDH to work for any other person and the FDH has no contractual obligation to follow an instruction of helping a neighbour. However, given the said circumstances and the nature of the said assistance, if offered out of volition and good will of the FDH to a neighbour, it does not warrant intervention of the law enforcement agencies.
Under the Standard Employment Contract (ID407), domestic duties to be performed by an FDH exclude driving of a motor vehicle. Moreover, the visa granted to an FDH to take up employment in Hong Kong is subject to the condition of stay that performing of driving duties is not permitted. To address the genuine needs of some employers, a special arrangement is made to allow FDHs to perform driving duties which are incidental to and arising from domestic duties. Application may be made to the Director of Immigration for special permission to be granted to the FDH to perform driving duties.
No. Special permission for an FDH to perform driving duties is given on the basis that the driving duties are incidental to and arising from any of the five broad categories of domestic duties, namely household chores, cooking, baby-sitting, child-minding and looking after aged persons in the household.
No. Please see A34. The situation described above falls outside the scope of domestic duties mentioned.
No. An FDH must be in possession of a valid Hong Kong driving licence at the time of application for special permission to perform driving duties.
Change of Residential Address
If the address on the Standard Employment Contract (ID407) is changed, you should notify the Immigration Department by giving the new address in the duly completed form "Revised Schedule of Accommodation and Domestic Duties" (ID407G). Where the new address refers to a flat in a housing estate run by the Housing Department/Hong Kong Housing Society, the employer is required to produce a letter of consent from the respective authority granting permission for the FDH to reside in the premises and a copy of tenancy agreement.
Under Clause 3 of the Standard Employment Contract (ID407), an FDH shall work and reside in the employer's residence stated in the contract. Request for the FDH to live out will not be granted as from 1 April 2003 onwards. In case of special circumstances, it will be dealt with on individual merits. Please refer to A38 in case of change of address.
Termination of Contract
Yes. Clause 12 of the Standard Employment Contract (ID407) states that in the event of termination of the contract, both the employer and the FDH shall give the Director of Immigration notice in writing within seven days of the date of termination. A copy of the other party's written acknowledgement of the termination shall also be forwarded to the Director of Immigration. It is essential to state the exact date of termination and information such as the reason of termination will be useful.
No. You should not agree to that. An FDH is permitted to remain in Hong Kong for not more than two weeks after premature termination of contract. If an FDH does not leave upon the expiry of stay, he/she will commit an offence for breaching his/her condition of stay. If you agree not to inform the Director of Immigration of the premature termination of employment contract to facilitate her overstaying in Hong Kong, you may be liable to prosecution for aiding and abetting the FDH to breach a condition of stay by overstaying, and on conviction to a fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for 2 years.
An employer and his helper alike may terminate the contract prior to its expiry by giving not less than one month's notice in writing or by paying one month's wages to the other party.
An employer who fails to pay the statutory benefits and other payments due to the helper in accordance with the EO and the standard employment contract commits an offence.
A helper is entitled to paid annual leave after serving every period of 12 months with the same employer. The helper's entitlement to paid annual leave will increase progressively from seven days to 14 days according to his/her length of service.
When the employment contract is terminated, the employer should give the helper payment in lieu of any annual leave not yet taken in respect of every 12 months' completed service. A helper with three but less than 12 months' service in a leave year (i.e. a period of every 12 months after the commencement of employment) is entitled to pro-rata annual leave pay.
An employer should pay severance payment to his helper if the helper 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 his helper if the
helper 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 helper or redundancy.
However, an employer is not required to pay both long service payment and severance payment to the helper.
Severance payment and long service payment are calculated as follows
((monthly wages x 2/3) x reckonable years of services*
* service of an incomplete year should be calculated on a pro rata basis.
The Labour Relations Division of the Labour Department provides consultation service to assist employers and helpers in understanding the various employment entitlements. The division also provides free conciliation service to resolve claims under the EO or the employment contract. If conciliation is not successful, the Labour Department will, at the request of the party concerned and depending on the claimed amount, refer the case to the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board or the Labour Tribunal for adjudication. Information on the EO can be obtained through the Labour Department website (http://www.info.gov.hk/labour) and Telephone Enquiry Service (2717 1771).
FAQs relating to Levy for Employment of FDHs
The requirement for the collection of levy from employers of FDH had been abolished after the expiry of the suspension of its collection on 1 August 2013. Nevertheless, employers who owe an overdue levy to the Director of Immigration are still required to settle the outstanding payment immediately. Should any employer fail to settle the outstanding payment, Immigration Department would take into account such adverse record and he/she may be considered ineligible for employment of FDH for a certain period of time.
All levy paid is not refundable under any circumstances.
FAQs relating to new arrangements for submission of applications from foreign domestic helpers for extension of stay sponsored by the same employer
Foreign domestic helpers applicants applying for an extension of stay under the sponsorship of the same employer, including contract renewal and completion of the remaining period of the current contract, may use the new arrangements.
The new arrangements are part of ImmD's continuous effort to streamline workflow and enhance efficiency through business process re-engineering. Under the new arrangement, eligible applications may be submitted by drop-in/post-in/online submission. Applicants are no longer required to wait at our offices during processing of the applications. In general, applicant or authorised person is only required to show up upon visa collection that will help save his/her time.
The new arrangement will be implemented from 12 July 2010 (Monday).
You can submit your application by placing them in the drop-in boxes located at Foreign Domestic Helpers Section, 3/F, Immigration Tower, Wan Chai, Hong Kong or send your application by post to the Foreign Domestic Helpers Section or by online submission via GovHK website ( www.gov.hk/esapplication ).
|Forms / documents required||Type of Application|
|Contract Renewal||Completion of
Period of the
|1.||Application Form (ID 988A)|
|2.||Application Form (ID 988B)||-|
|3.||An original copy of the new Employment Contract (ID 407) *||-|
|4.||Copy of the Helper's travel document including the pages showing
|5.||Proof of the employer's financial position (Copy)|
|6.||Proof of the employer's residential address (Copy)|
|7.||Employer's supporting letter to confirm continuous employment||-|
* For the applications submitted online, the original employment contract (notarised, if so required by the local consulate) should also be submitted for inspection upon collection of the extension label.
** Proof of employer's financial position and residential address is not required (provided that the employer's average household income remains no less than HK$15,000 (for each domestic helper to be employed) and there is no change in the residential address). Nevertheless, further supporting documents may be required in individual cases.
With the new arrangement, the overall queuing time of the applicants will be reduced because applicants are not required to attend to our offices in person upon submission of their applications and they are not required to wait at our office during processing of the applications. Upon receipt of the collection letter, they could approach Foreign Domestic Helpers Section to collect their visa.
Under the new arrangement, the application would normally be finalized within 10 working days upon receipt of all necessary documents, and a collection letter will be sent to the applicants. Applicants shall approach Foreign Domestic Helpers Section to collect their extension label.
The new arrangement is not applicable to other applications relating to Foreign Domestic Helpers, namely, change of employer and entry visa applications. They should be submitted via existing channels. The new arrangement is not applicable to Immigration Branch Offices.
Applications will normally be finalized within ten working days upon receipt of all necessary documents, and there is no need to make progress check during the period. Should there be any urgent need for enquiries, applicants may phone Immigration Department at 2824 6111, fax to 2877 7711 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the helper's limit of stay is not expired, he/she could continue to work until the issuance of new employment visa. However, if the helper's limit of stay is expired, the employer should not ask his/her helper to work while waiting for the issue of the visa. Applicants should submit applications early enough and employers should remind their foreign domestic helpers in such circumstances to apply early enough.
After receiving the collection letter, you should bring along the helper's travel document and the collection letter (and authorisation letter, if applicable) to collect the extension label at the Foreign Domestic Helpers Section after payment of visa fee. For applications submitted online, the original employment contract (notarized, if so required by the local consulate) should also be submitted for inspection upon collection of the extension label.
No, prior appointment booking to collect extension labels is not required. The collection procedures are very simple; including the extension fee of $160 and the extension labels will be printed and collected immediately.
You should submit a withdrawal letter immediately to the Foreign Domestic Helpers Section, Immigration Department stating the reasons and the details of your application, such as date of submission, personal particulars of the foreign domestic helper / employer for our follow up action. The mailing address is Foreign Domestic Helpers Section, Immigration Department, 3/F Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. The fax number is (852) 3170 5696.