So long, Hong Kong!
The festive season is a special time for many families, and also a time of year when lots of expats tend to emigrate back to their home countries while others make the big move to Hong Kong. Often caught in between are domestic workers, many of whom will be looking for new jobs as their employers leave.
If you’re saying a permanent farewell to Hong Kong this holiday season, and you’re leaving a valued domestic helper behind, there are a few things you can do to see that your helper finds a great new family to work for. Parents and kids alike often become attached to our helpers, so naturally we want the best for them.
HelperChoice, the ethics-based platform that helps domestic workers and employers to connect online, has a few suggestions on what employers can do to assist their helpers through this sensitive process – from handling the Immigration Department procedures correctly to supporting helpers in their job search.
For a start, it is important to give your domestic worker as much notice as possible. This way, she will be able to prepare her resume and start her job search sooner rather than later. Foreign domestic workers can only stay in Hong Kong for two weeks after their contracts have ended, so it is important to be as prepared as possible.
Bear in mind that the job search can take some time and your helper may need to go for several interviews and meet numerous prospective employers before signing a new contract. Finding the right match is a two-way street – both your helper and her new employer should feel they’re a good fit for one another!
If you want to assist your domestic worker with her job search, we recommend the direct hire route, since your helper won’t have to fork out hefty agency fees.
You can give your helper’s job search a massive boost by providing her with a recommendation letter, and making yourself available to answer any questions prospective employers may have. HelperChoice recently added a feature to its website that lets employers write recommendations directly into their helpers’ profiles.
We also recommend that you encourage your helper to be thorough in her job search and to sign a contract only if she is satisfied with the position and the contract. If she has a fair amount of experience or special skills, such as infant care or first aid, she should be in a better position to negotiate a good salary. Hong Kong recently raised the minimum wage for foreign domestic workers to $4,310, so her salary should at least meet this requirement. Know the rules to ensure the transfer process goes smoothly for your helper.
Once your helper finds a new employer, you can assist her further by informing the Immigration Department of your reason for ending your helper’s contract.
Usually, helpers must travel back to their home countries if their contracts are prematurely terminated. However, if you explicitly state that you are ending her contract as you are relocating, your helper will be able to defer her trip home (for up to a year) and begin her new job immediately.
By following the contract termination procedures correctly, you will make the transfer process much easier for both your helper and her new employer. Plus, many employers look for helpers who are already based in Hong Kong and who can start immediately, so avoiding a journey home could increase her chances of finding a job in the first place.
Finally, since the festive season is fast approaching, consider giving your helper an end-of-year gift to show her your appreciation for her work. Most helpers enjoy receiving something meaningful, while cash bonuses are also popular since almost all of the domestic workers we speak to plan to send money home to their families for Christmas.
Read more: Ask Mel: Making Christmas Special for your Helper