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FAQ on domestic helper’s salary while on unable to work due to COVID-19 Quarantine

Are employers required to pay a domestic helper’s salary while they are unable to return to work?

There is no black-and-white answer under the Standard Employment Contract (SEC). The Hong Kong Labour Department and the Philippine Overseas Labour Office advises employers and domestic helpers to have open communication and come to a mutual agreement on paid or unpaid leave.

Both employers and domestic helpers are now in a situation where neither parties had control over. Coming to a solution that works for both parties is important for maintaining a successful working relationship. We find that situations like this can be a good opportunity for building trust and cultivating work satisfaction in the future.

An employer should grant sick leave and sickness allowance to the eligible worker in accordance with the Employment Ordinance (EO) if the worker falls sick. Where a sick worker has not accumulated sufficient paid sickness days to cover the period of his/her sick leave, the Government appeals to the employer to be compassionate and consider granting the worker paid sick leave. In addition, according to the requirements in the SEC, employers should provide to their workers free and suitable accommodation as well as free medical treatment.

Where an employee has contracted a disease (including COVID-19) unrelated to his/ her work, the employer should grant sick leave to the employee in accordance with the EO and related terms of the employment contract, and pay sickness allowance to the eligible employee.

Under the EO, an employee employed under a continuous contract is entitled to sickness allowance (equivalent to four-fifths of the employee’s average daily wages) if:
– the sick leave is supported by an appropriate medical certificate;
– the sick leave taken is not less than four consecutive days; and
– the employee has accumulated sufficient number of paid sickness days

We also recommend having a written agreement on the terms for this situation, outlining the agreement as Whatsapp conversation text records and/or photos of signed agreements from each side.

  1. Know who to contact if you have any questions. We recommend contacting the Labour Department, Immigration Department or the Philippine Overseas Labour Office for their guidance on the legal entitlements and responsibilities.
  • Hong Kong Labour Department Hotline for Foreign  Domestic Helpers: 2157 9537.
  • Hong Kong Immigration Department, Foreign Domestic Helper’s Section: 2111 8435
  • Philippine Overseas Labour Office: 5529 1880
  • Overseas Workers Welfare Administration:  3483 0600 Emergency Hotline: 6345 9324
  • Read more here.


What if my worker tests positive for COVID-19 and has to be placed under quarantine at designated quarantine centres to undergo medical surveillance and testing?

When they leave the quarantine centre upon completion of the quarantine period, Department of Health will issue them with a document setting out information on the quarantine period and whether they were infected by COVID-19, to prove that they stayed at the quarantine centres. Medical certificates will also be issued upon request. If the employee is employed under a continuous contract, the employee will be entitled to sickness allowance under the EO.

The Government encourages employers to be considerate and show understanding to the situation of such employees and make flexible arrangements, including granting special paid leave to employees. This will help maintain good labour-management relations and protect the health of all employees as well as the community.

Reach out to your agency for support

The coronavirus situation has added new challenges to working relationships between employers and domestic helpers. Your agency may be able to provide you guidance and support at this time. At Fair Employment Agency, we have our dedicated Client Care team to support our employers and workers. Please do reach out to us if Fair Employment Agency is your agency.

If you need additional support on how to manage your helper during this unique time, Helpwise offers practical and personalized advice for employers. Reach out to Helpwise to book a phone consultation that could guide you to solutions that work for your household. HERE

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Fair Employment Agency is a nonprofit agency. We put a lot of work into producing high quality, accurate and updated information resources because when employers and domestic helpers are informed, they are empowered to make good choices.

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Last updated on March 4th, 2022