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 who has to suddenly return to her home country for good wants to know what to do for her helper…
My husband and I are being repatriated to our home country at the end of August. Our helper’s contract still has over a year left to run. What do we have to do to with regards to informing immigration, and can she just go straight in to another job or will she have to fly home first? She’s concerned that she’ll get stuck at home for 2 months like she was before she started with us. Can she just go to Macau instead? What do we legally have to do in terms of flight home, redundancy pay etc? When should we start all this?
A: If the contract ends prematurely due to the employer leaving Hong Kong, the contract is considered for immigration purposes as if it has run the full two years. So your helper can get a new job immediately and stay in country between jobs. Also, there is also no need to use an agency.
You must inform the Immigration Department in writing within seven days after termination that the contract is ending due to you leaving Hong Kong. Make sure you include your HKID number, the helper’s HKID number, the contract number, and the date of contract termination. Your helper must also inform the Immigration Department.
Your full obligations are laid out in detail in the Labour Department’s “Practical Guide For Employment of foreign domestic helpers” here, Section 7. Note particularly section 7.6:
You should let your helper know you are terminating her at least one month in advance. If you let her know later, you owe one month’s wages from the day you informed her.
If she has worked for you 12 months or more, you owe any accrued vacation days that she has not taken out. You can pay these out in cash by pro-rating the owed days and calculating her daily wages based on her monthly salary. See “Practical Guide For Employment of foreign domestic helpers”, section 4.14, for details.
You owe severance payment or long service payment if she has worked for you for more than 24 months. The amount is 2/3 x Monthly Wages x years of service, with incomplete years being pro-rated. See “Practical Guide For Employment of foreign domestic helpers”, section 8, for details.
You must pay the cost of a trip home. Note that this is from your residence to hers including all taxis, trains, buses ferries, aircraft and so forth. It is not just the airfare. If the trip is more than a few hours, you should also give a small meal allowance.
I would also recommend calling Immigration to double check about the early contract termination rules, as they do change periodically.
The one thing to start doing now, assuming you are happy with your helper, is to help her find a nice new job. Spread the word among friends, acquaintances and work mates.
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 [email protected] with the subject line “Ask Andreas” and we’ll make sure it gets answered on the site!
Andreas Rosboch was born and raised in Sweden by an Italian father and a Swedish mother. He has been an expat for more than ten years and plans to keep it that way. He has spent most of his career in the information technology field, handling everything from brand management to customer support. He is the author of one of our most-recommended books Hiring & Managing Domestic Help – an absolute must-have for Hong Kong mamas (psst- and you can buy it here). He lives in Hong Kong with his wife, two children and dog.