We have the best Agony Uncle at Sassy Mama – Andreas is the author of one of our most-recommended books: Hiring & Managing Domestic Help. It’s an absolute must-have for Hong Kong mamas and you can buy it here!
This week, one mama has been left in the lurch by a helper’s family emergency…
My helper had to return home for a family emergency and we have no idea how long she’ll be gone for. Is it possible to hire a replacement helper at such short notice and with no idea how long we need one for? And what are my obligations to my current helper and any new one I take on to cover her absence?
A Foreign Domestic Helper contract is always two years. For temp work, you can use one of the (admittedly somewhat costly) cleaning agencies like Merry Maids. Note that hiring a “part-time helper” who is not a permanent resident or citizen is illegal, despite the fact that many do so.
Your obligations to the current helper (salary, insurance and so on) are valid as long as she only stays away a reasonable time. Ensure the time period is clear and agreed from the start. There is a fine line between family emergency and taking advantage of the employer’s kindness. If she is away from work too long and without communication, you are within your rights to terminate her after fair warning. Technically you can also deduct any days she is off from vacation time.
If you hire a new helper this is just like hiring any other helper. Processing takes 6-10 weeks and as mentioned there are no temp contracts.
For the only guide you’ll ever need on working with a helper, check out Andreas’ fab book ‘Hiring and Managing Domestic Help’ and buy it here.
Do you have a question for Andreas? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask Andreas” and we’ll make sure it gets answered on the site!