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Can a domestic helper travel with their employer?

Technically, yes. However, there are a number of things to know:

1. Apply for the correct visa

Make sure to check with the immigration authorities of the country you’re going to. You should ask about the type of visa that domestic helpers need. A lot of countries have specific short-term visas for domestic helpers who are travelling with their employers. Without the appropriate visa, domestic helpers can be arrested for violating immigration law by working whilst travelling.

2. Pay the right salary

When travelling abroad, keep in mind that employers are required to pay the minimum wage of the country you are travelling to, not the minimum wage in Hong Kong.

3. Check insurance policies

Employers should also check their Employee Compensation Insurance and medical insurance policies to make sure that the domestic helper will be covered wherever you are going.

4. Inform your employment agency

This may seem strange, but employers are strongly advised to inform their employment agency when going abroad with their domestic helper. Your agency has a duty of care to the domestic helper throughout the duration of the contract and should be informed if she leaves Hong Kong with you. The agency will then inform the relevant Consulate.

Can a domestic helper travel with their employer during the current COVID-19 pandemic?

While technically a domestic worker can travel with their employer even during COVID, there are a lot of practical issues and uncertainties in these times that make travelling more difficult. Here are a list of factors you will need to consider:  

  1. Visas: Make sure to check with the Immigration department of the country of destination for the type of visa that is required to enter the country:
  • This is a grey area whether a worker would be allowed to work for you under an employment contract in Hong Kong while he/she is entering the country on a tourist visa
  • Some countries have restrictions on non-residents/citizens entering the country and do not grant tourist visas
  • Without the appropriate visa, the employer and the domestic worker could be arrested for violating immigration law by working whilst travelling.

 

      2. Travel period: with the uncertainty of travel restrictions, it is likely that the duration of stay is longer than planned or you may even be left stranded because of the flight ban imposed on a number of countries. 

  • We have seen both employers and workers being questioned by the Hong Kong Immigration at the time of returning back to Hong Kong for travelling abroad 
  • Immigration will know how much time worker spent away from Hong Kong and ask for the reason and explanation 
  • Please note that the duration that you stay abroad will impact your next contract renewal and immigration will have additional questions 
  • Check the contract expiry date in advance before planning your trip abroad to avoid the challenging situation when workers are stranded overseas with the 2-year-contract expiring soon or during the period abroad. 
    • If the 2-year-contract is going to expire soon, the employer can start the contract renewal process at earliest 8 weeks in advance and the domestic worker must be physically present in Hong Kong during the contract renewal process 
    • If you plan to renew the contract earlier than 8 weeks, then the employer will need to visit Immigration in person to explain why and ask for special consideration, bringing along the relevant supporting documents. This process cannot be done by the recruitment agency. 
      • If potentially your helper contract will expire during the travel period, then the employer will need to visit the immigration in person to ask for special consideration to renew the contract earlier than 8 weeks.

       3. Your worker should give mutual consent to travel to another country with you 

  • Travelling abroad could have a huge impact on your worker’s situation (e.g. she may have her own concerns as well). Your helper may not want to travel and be exposed to potential risks of travelling during the pandemic or face the potential repercussions of working while abroad in another country thus affecting her employment as a domestic helper in Hong Kong in the future. 
  • We recommend having this in writing and stating clearly the time duration abroad, the destination and/or all destination country(s) during the intended travel period, the duties to be performed while overseas, how salaries will be paid and other expectations or relevant information. Make copies of this consent letter and ask your helper to keep a copy.
  • We suggest you have an open communication with your helper before planning to bring your helper with you to travel.
  • Other practical issues to consider before travelling:
    • Check your helper’s passport validity and visa expiry date
    • Insurance cover and travel insurance for your worker – it is also possible that your worker will get sick or fall ill during the travel period.
    • Salary, accommodation and any other standard employment conditions and entitlements
    • Vaccination requirements of the destination country and arrangement of PCR tests prior to travel
  • If Fair Employment Agency is your agency, inform us via email at least one month in advance as the agency may need to inform the consulate and conduct check-ins with the worker in the future. Let your employment agency know the destination and/or all destination country(s) during the intended travel period, the travel period and any other relevant information. 

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Last updated on March 1st, 2022
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