Like any employee, foreign domestic helpers legally deserve annual leave and holidays. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made most of that virtually impossible, and most workers have had to delay their annual vacations.
So, like any employer, you must have considered whether or not you can substitute your helper’s annual leave with extra payment, right? Well, we were wondering the same thing! And that’s why we’ve penned down our thoughts in this article.
But before we jump to the crux of the matter, here is a short overview of holidays for domestic helpers.
The number of annual leave days in Hong Kong is usually specified in the employment contract. But in general, the number of annual days a domestic helper should be paid for is determined by the number of years they have worked for you.
The days are limited to seven for the first year, after which one additional day is added every year, bringing the total number of days to fourteen.
To be more specific, the helper is entitled to seven days during their first year of employment, eight days during their second year, nine days during their third year, and so on until they achieve 14 days.
The employer discusses the dates of leave with their worker and confirms at least half a month before the time of the vacation.
The Hong Kong Labour department specifically allows it to be granted per request in the following cases as well:
This is a common question, especially near the end of the year, when you may have a domestic helper still owed vacation time.
You may not want them to take time off and leave you with a shortage of help, but this does not necessarily imply that you can compensate them monetarily for any vacations they haven’t taken.
On the surface, it might seem like a win-win situation: the helper receives additional compensation, and you avoid arranging a substitute while they are on vacation.
If the conclusion of the holiday season falls during a hectic period for you, this option can appear extra appealing because you don’t want your employees to be on vacation.
On the other hand, paid leave was created to provide employees with time away from the workplace, which does not ruin their bank accounts. Of course, there are valid health and wellness reasons for them to have that relaxation.
Therefore, you are not permitted to contract out of the minimum paid leave stipulation by paying the helpers instead.
A helper should take their paid yearly leave within the first 12 months of starting their work, after consulting with their employer and receiving written confirmation. Also, unless the absence is longer than ten days, workers cannot accept cash instead of the vacation.
This means that if workers have fourteen paid vacation days but only use ten, they can be compensated for the remaining four with money.
Second, if a domestic worker is terminated or decides to quit before they are entitled to annual leave but have already worked for three months under the contract, they are still entitled to paid yearly leave.
Furthermore, your employee may be eligible to use the remainder of their leave entitlement during their notice period.
Since Home Leave is an immigration requirement for domestic helpers, it isn’t something that can be easily bypassed.
Furthermore, the country’s employment contract already considers that home leave for at least seven days should be considered at the employer’s expense. Of course, some helpers have tried to extend their stay in the country due to the raging epidemic.
Similarly, even if an employee is terminated from work and before applying for annual leave, the employers still owe them food, transportation, and flight costs.
In short, we’ve come to understand that there are various important things to consider and confirm annual leave and to what extent you can replace it with money for your domestic helper.