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FAQs on home leave

What is home leave?

Domestic helpers must return to their home country for at least 7 days for every employment contract – this is called home/vacation leave.

Home/vacation leave is an Immigration requirement of domestic helpers:

  • Clause 13 of the Standard Employment Contract states that: Between contracts, unless with approval for extension of stay in Hong Kong, a domestic helper shall return to her place of origin for home/vacation leave for not less than 7 days. This leave is at the expense of the employer.

Is home/vacation leave the same as annual leave?

No, home/vacation leave is a separate benefit to annual leave. Home/vacation leave is a requirement by the Hong Kong Immigration Department for domestic helpers to return to his/her place of origin for at least 7 days for every employment contract whereas Annual Leaves are paid holidays as an employee’s entitlement under Employment Ordinance

When do domestic helpers need to take home/vacation leave?

Home/vacation leave requirement applies to domestic helpers whose visa is processed in Hong Kong whether it is change of employer or contract renewal. 

  • Contract renewal 
  • Finished contract
  • Special Case (e.g. relocation, death of employer, financial reasons) 
  • Special local processing of terminated/broken contract helpers

The requirement of home/vacation leave is to prevent migrant domestic helpers from staying extensively in Hong Kong. Thus, home/vacation leave requirement is also known as the exit requirement between contracts.

Home leave options

The Immigration will allow the employer/helper with two options: (a) immediate home/vacation leave or (b) deferred home/vacation leave.

(a) Immediate home/vacation leave

If the employer/helper chooses immediate home/vacation leave, the immigration will issue a temporary new visa and the helper has to leave HK in 7 days. Your helper will be automatically granted with a full 2-year visa upon her return.

For example, if immediate home/vacation leave is chosen and the temporary visa is issued on 1 November 2020, this means that the domestic helper needs to go back to their home country for at least 7 days on or before 8 November 2020. When she returns to HK on 25 November 2020, she will get the remaining visa until 25 November 2022.

(b) Deferred home/vacation leave

If you and your helper choose deferred home/vacation leave, the Immigration will first issue a one-year visa to make sure the helper exits Hong Long within one year. Then, upon completion of the home/vacation leave, your helper will be automatically granted the remaining full visa.

For example, if deferred home/vacation leave is chosen and the visa is issued on 1 November 2020, she will get a one-year visa until 1 November 2021. This means that the domestic helper needs to go back to their home country for at least 7 days and re-enter Hong Kong on or before 1 November 2021. Then she will get her remaining visa until 1 November 2022 upon her return to Hong Kong.

Due to the travel challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic helpers may apply for further Extension of the Limit of Stay with the Immigration Department if she is unable to return to her place of origin within her extended limit of stay.  See: How can domestic helpers get a visa extension in Hong Kong? 

Please note that upon Extension of the Limit of Stay, the requirement of return to place of origin is deferred but not removed. The employer should make arrangements for the domestic helper to return to her place of origin for home/vacation leave within the extension period. For this reason, domestic helpers should not receive cash for the flight tickets of home/vacation leave. 

Does the employer have to pay the domestic worker when they are on home/vacation leave?

Home/vacation leave can be paid or unpaid. This should be decided at the time of signing the contract.

If you are renewing the contract with a domestic helper, it is required to indicate whether the home-leave will be paid or unpaid on Clause 13 on the Standard Employment Contract.

Who pays for the flights for home/vacation leave?

The employer is responsible for two flight tickets in each employment contract, one from the home country to Hong Kong and one from Hong Kong to the home country. 

When an employer hires a new domestic helper who processed her visa in Hong Kong and needs to fulfil the home/vacation leave requirement, her previous employer should have given her the flight ticket/payment in lieu of sending her back to her home country to take the home/vacation leave. You as the new employer would be responsible for the flight ticket to bring her from her home country to Hong Kong. At the end of the contract, you would be responsible to pay for the flight ticket to send her back to her home country.

Due to COVID-19 and its travel restrictions, can we defer the home/vacation leave again?

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government allows helpers who are unable to return to his/her place of origin within the one-year period to apply to the Immigration for for a further extension of visa until the end of his/her contract. The Government reminds the flexibility arrangement must be mutually agreed between the employer and the helper, and that the requirement that helpers should return to their place of origin continues to be in place. Employers should arrange for their helpers to return to the place of origin within the extended visa period.

If you foresee that the home/vacation leave is unlikely to happen before the current contract ends , make sure to keep open communication and a written record of the mutual agreement for future reference.

If the employer and domestic helper have decided to defer the home/vacation leave arrangement, you will need to apply for a visa extension. The application needs to be submitted before the original date the domestic helper was supposed to leave.

While travel restrictions continue to be in place, many employers and domestic helpers have chosen deferred home/vacation leave. Make sure to keep an eye on the existing visa date (permission to stay) to avoid overstaying.

See: how to check the visa expiry date, how to get a visa extension and Fair Agency’s visa extension service.

What if the domestic helper cannot take home/vacation leave before the 2-year contract ends?

If home/vacation leave is not taken before the current contract ends, you should ensure your domestic helper receives all the necessary entitlements regarding this untaken home/vacation leave, which may include:

  • Flight tickets and any local transportation fare
  • Food and travelling allowance ($100 per day)
  • Wages in lieu of paid home/vacation leave (as indicated in clause 13 of standard employment contract)

For example, the employer and domestic helper renewed the contract in July 2019 with a deferred home/vacation leave. The domestic helper was expected to complete the home/vacation leave journey between November July 2019 and July 2020. However, the home/vacation leave has not been able to be completed due to COVID-19 and you applied for a visa extension until the end of the two-year contract in July 2021. At the end of the two-year contract, the domestic helper would be entitled to the following regarding this untaken home/vacation leave, which will include:

  • Flight ticket from Hong Kong to the domestic helper’s place of origin & any local transportation fare (originally intended for sending your helper to her home country to take the home/vacation leave) AND food and travelling allowance ($100 per day) 
  • Flight ticket from the domestic helper’s place of origin to Hong Kong & any local transportation fare (originally intended for bringing your helper back to Hong Kong after the home/vacation leave) AND food and travelling allowance ($100 per day) 
  • If this home/vacation leave is a paid home/vacation leave as indicated in clause 13, settle the home/vacation leave (7 days) in payment

What if the contract is terminated before the domestic helper can take home/vacation leave?

Besides the regular termination entitlement (click HERE), the employer will need to settle the relevant items due to the deferred home/vacation leave. This includes: 

  • Flight tickets and any local transportation fare  to place of origin 
  • Food and travelling allowance ($100 per day)
  • Wages in lieu of paid home/vacation leave ( indicated in clause 13 of of standard employment contract) 

For example, the employer and domestic helper renewed the contract in June 2020 with a deferred home/vacation leave. The employer indicated that this home/vacation leave will be paid in clause 13 of the contract. The domestic helper was expected to complete the home/vacation leave before June 2021. However, the employer decided to terminate the contract in Mar 2021 and the home/vacation leave was not yet taken. The necessary entitlements will include:

  • Flight ticket from Hong Kong to the domestic helper’s place of origin & any local transportation fare (originally intended for sending the domestic helper to her home country to take the home/vacation leave) AND food and travelling allowance ($100 per day) 
  • Flight ticket from the domestic helper’s place of origin to Hong Kong & any local transportation fare (originally intended for bringing the domestic helper back to Hong Kong after the home/vacation leave) AND food and travelling allowance ($100 per day) 
  • If this home/vacation leave is a paid home/vacation leave as indicated in clause 13, settle the home/vacation leave (7 days) in payment 
  • Flight ticket from Hong Kong to the domestic helper’s place of origin & any local transportation fare (intended for sending the domestic helper to her home country at the expiry of the contract) AND food and travelling allowance ($100 per day) 
  • Other regular termination entitlement (click HERE

 See also,

If the domestic helper decides to return to the Philippines in order to fulfil the home/vacation leave requirement or due to a family emergency, here are some points to consider and discuss:

  • Duration: How long will the domestic helper be away? What may cause delays or extensions?
  • Salary: What is the arrangement? How will salary payments be made?
  • Covid Impact: What are current travel and quarantine requirements you should be aware of?
  • Expenses: What are the other potential expenses? 
  • Keeping in touch: How will you communicate with each other and how often? Keep in mind that internet connection may not be easily accessible.

Since July 2020, all employers applying for the visa applications of contract renewal, visa extension, first time employment or replacement/additional hiring, regardless of whether the helper will defer or take her home leave immediately, will be required to sign an undertaking.

The undertaking indicates that employers will arrange for the COVID-19 test and hotel quarantine for their FDHs, and be responsible for the relevant costs. If employers are found to have breached the undertaking, their FDHs may be denied entry into Hong Kong and future applications from those employers for employing an FDH may be refused.

We encourage employers and workers to have an open conversation to understand each other’s concerns. While the uncertainties due to Covid-19 are not ideal, many domestic helpers have understandable reasons to return home. Best practice is to have a written and signed receipt and record of the home/vacation leave arrangement.

We do our best to keep our articles up-to-date. Please double-check with the relevant organisations directly for the latest. 

You may also like:

Quick guide for Employers of Domestic Helpers

How can domestic helpers get a visa extension?

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Last updated on August 9th, 2021
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