Employing Foreign Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong

Information on the paperwork and process involved in hiring Foreign Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong - details of the legal requirements, application procedures and how to hire a maid...

In 2003, the International Labour Organisation estimated that there were more than 200,000 foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. A large majority of these workers are from the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. 

The procedure for the employment of a foreign domestic worker, commonly referred to in Hong Kong as a maid (Amah), is well documented by the Immigration and Labour Departments of the Hong Kong Government.

Hiring Foreign Domestic Helpers

An employer should be aware that current law requires Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs) to live in their employer's home. The employer must be able to accommodate an extra person and be clear on the role that the helper is to undertake.

Hong Kong residents may be employed without requiring the employer to provide accommodation.

Before hiring a foreign domestic helper, a household must:

  • Show that it has sufficient financial means: for each helper, the household must either have an income of HKD 15,000 per month (this figure is subject to change), or indicate that the household has sufficient assets to pay the helper throughout the course of the contract
  • Enter into a contract and only ask the helper to undertake duties according to the agreed-upon list of chores
    • For a sample contract and list of duties from the Immigration Department: Click here
  • Be the sole employer of the helper
  • Pay a specified minimum wage
  • Provide suitable accommodation within the home and a certain amount of personal privacy

Information on regulations

  • For comprehensive details on all aspects of employment of foreign domestic helpers: Click here
  • The Hong Kong Immigration Department website has a section for frequently asked questions: Click here
    Other enquiries can be asked by letter, telephone or in person
  • The Hong Kong Labour Department also produces a 34 page guide to employment of FDHs: Click here (PDF)

Contracts

  • Contracts are for a maximum of two years
  • Employers are responsible for buying a return air ticket
  • Medical expenses are the responsibility of the employer who should take out a medical insurance policy to cover these costs
  • Helpers are entitled to one day off a week, and it is common practice to give the Sunday off
  • Domestic helpers are entitled to seven days holiday per year
  • Contracts may be terminated with one month's written notice or one month's salary

Fees and payments

Employers are required to pay an Employees Retraining Levy when applying to employ a helper. The levy is a fixed monthly sum payable for the number of months of the employment contract. It is either paid in a lump sum before the employee's visa is issued or in four instalments. The first instalment must be paid before the visa is issued.

The employer must reimburse the foreign domestic worker any fees that have been paid to prepare the necessary documentation.

Application procedures

The helper must complete:

  • A visa/entry permit application form
  • A declaration of applicant
  • A declaration of the helper's working experience
  • Four copies of the employment contract

Once these forms have been completed, the employer must fill in an application form for Employment of a Domestic Helper From Abroad.

The following employer's documents should be sent with the application:

  • Hong Kong ID card
  • Proof of sufficient income
  • Proof of address
  • Evidence from the helper confirming two years' working experience as a domestic helper

Documents should be sent to:

  • Director of Immigration
    The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Receipt and Despatch Unit
    At: 2/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
  • Or to any one of the Immigration branches listed: Click here

How to find staff

There are many other ways to find domestic staff, including placing an advertisement or browsing the postings in local retail outlets.

The Labour Department

The Labour Department has a free recruitment service for both potential employers and employees with an Interactive Employment Service (IES) which enables both parties to advertise.

  • For job centre addresses and telephone contacts: Click here

Recruitment agencies

  • The Hong Kong Yellow Pages provides details of employment service providers: Click here

Online search

  • Amahnet provides an online service for FDH and local staff search, which includes information on procedures and insurance
    At: Shop 2013, 2/F, United Centre, 95 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong
    Tel: 2869 9330
    Fax: 2869 9182
    email

Overseas Employment Centre Limited has an online service and four offices in Hong Kong. It deals with Domestic Helpers from abroad and local staff.

  • For contact details of local offices: Click here

Further information