Hong Kong’s frenetic work culture has given rise to the demand for hiring a foreign domestic helper. As of 2019, foreign domestic helpers have covered over 10% of local households. If you are looking to hire help, it is essential to acquaint yourself with your responsibilities and liabilities towards the helper as an employer.
When Hongkongers struggle with small living space, the accommodation aspect of hiring foreign domestic helpers can be difficult to navigate. To meet the legal accommodation requirements, you should always make sure your helper is provided with:
As per Hong Kong law, the domestic helper should be provided with appropriate accommodation within the confines of the employer residence. There is no option for live-out for the domestic helpers. The rationale behind this law is to lessen the financial burden on the domestic helper and to provide safety.
The domestic helper in no case should be sent to work for your friends or relatives or be asked to work in your company.
You should treat your domestic helpers as your employees and providing them with the basic facilities is your responsibility. Free access to a bathroom, good bed, blankets, and wardrobes should be given. Proper lighting should be ensured in the living space of the helper and access to clean water is a must.
It is expected from you to provide food, free of cost to the domestic helper. If that is not an option, then the helper should receive a food allowance of not less than $1075 per month. It will be appropriate to notify the domestic helper in advance regarding the nature of the food that will be provided to them in your home.
Since there exists a contractual relationship between you and the domestic helper, it is imperative that you pay for health insurance of the helper. Health insurance of domestic worker is necessitated by Hong Kong law. It is recommended to choose the best insurance plan to shorten your expenses in case of unforeseen events.
It is also your ethical responsibility as an employer to provide a living environment to the domestic helper which is comfortable, clean, and trusting. Some ways to prepare your home for the hiring of domestic helpers include:
Buying A New Bed
You should provide a proper place to sleep for your helper. Giving access to a new bed goes a long way in enhancing your relationship with the helper.
Don’t be afraid to spend the upfront cost of ensuring the helper’s room is well maintained and decently decorated – you will see that it is beneficial to you in the long run as a nice room to rest in after a long day can boost productivity. It also reinforces the trust of the helper in you.
Having A Safe Place For Your Valuables
Employers are more often highly suspicious of the helpers. If anything goes missing, finger pointing towards the helper leads to a toxic working relationship. It is not right on your part to level allegations of misconduct without the evidence to back it up. These will only damage the reputation of the helper as well as decrease the trust level between you and the helper.
Regardless of whether you are living with a domestic helper, it is always a good idea to put your valuables in a safe place. This is particularly true here as it can prevent a lot of misunderstanding and misremembering, giving you and your helper a peace of mind.
Checking For Ventilation
The designated room of the helper should have appropriate ventilation mechanisms. Windows and Air conditioning is a must. After all, it is in your best interests to provide a vibrant and refreshing atmosphere to your helper so that they do work with interest and fulfil your requirements.
Having a guide to the neighbourhood
In most cases, the domestic helpers are complete strangers to the neighbourhood. It is advisable to provide information on the nearby essential facilities such as convenience stores and hospitals. The neighbourhood guide on Spacious can come in handy with its map of public transport options.
Treat your helper in the same way as you want to be treated in the sphere of privacy. Make sure not to disturb your helper in their personal time. If possible, try to install a television in their room so that they have avenues for entertainment.
Why is it important to meet these legal and ethical requirements of hiring foreign domestic helpers?
The Hong Kong government has been cracking down on poor employment practices of local household employers to foreign domestic helpers – a move signalled by the Action Plan to Tackle Trafficking in Persons and to Enhance Protection of Foreign Domestic Helpers implemented March last year. Failure to meet these standards can be a criminal offence of human rights violations and put you in a position vulnerable to lawsuits.
It is a golden rule that the best employment environment will attract the best workers. So you need to understand the benefits of providing a pleasant living atmosphere in your home to the domestic helper. Workers with a better experience and a good reputation will be attracted to your offer of employment if the quality of your accommodation is high.
Treat your domestic helpers with care and respect and it will go a long way in establishing a mutually rewarding relationship. The above rules are put into place to maintain the good international reputation of Hong Kong. The Immigrant department follows a rigorous mechanism of effective prosecution of those who are suspected of breaking the law when it comes to hiring foreign domestic helpers.
This is a guest post by HelperPlace, a social leading platform connecting domestic helpers and employers.