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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 leave. Home leave applies to all contracts – both domestic helpers processing new contracts, and those renewing contracts with the same employer.

Is home leave separate to annual leave?

Yes, home leave is a separate benefit to annual leave. In addition to the home leave requirement, domestic helpers are also entitled to annual leave.

Do I have to pay my domestic worker when they are on home leave?

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

Can a domestic worker defer home leave?

If the domestic worker CANNOT process locally in Hong Kong…

…they must return home before starting a new employment contract. This typically applies to first-time workers, or those leaving broken or terminated contracts. Be wary of any employment agencies offering a ‘return to Macau’ option, this is illegal and can leave both you and the domestic worker at risk.

If the domestic worker CAN process locally in Hong Kong…

…they can defer home leave and instead go back within one year of the contract commencement date (refer to the visa for this date). For example, if a domestic helper’s official contract commencement date is 1 November 2017, 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 2018.

How to defer home leave:

If you and your domestic helper have decided to change the date for the home leave arrangement, you will need to write a letter to the Foreign Domestic Helper Section, HERE. This needs to be submitted before the original date the domestic helper was supposed to leave. If the reason is related to the coronavirus situation, include this as the reason.

  • The documents required are:
    • ID988A (download here)
    • Domestic helper’s passport copy
      • If the Passport has validity of less than 2 years, then Immigration may set the visa to a shorter period. We recommend that you check the validity of the passport.
    • Letter by helper to explain why she cannot take home leave
    • Letter by employer to confirm to continue hire helper
    • Employer’s undertaking:The undertaking indicates that employers will arrange for:
      • the COVID-19 test and hotel quarantine for their domestic helper, and
      • be responsible for the relevant costs when their FDHs are arriving on or after July 25, 2020.
      • The undertaking can be downloaded from the website of ImmD: HERE   and obtained free of charge from the Immigration Department Headquarters and Immigration Branch Offices.
  • Next steps: Put all the documents in an envelope and do drop-in on Immigration 3/F or by post (Foreign Domestic Helpers Section, 3/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai). Immigration will contact the domestic helper to pick up the visa extension when it’s ready.

If you foresee that the home leave is likely not to happen in due course, make sure to keep open communication and record of the relevant entitlements to avoid future disputes. Potential items include flight tickets and any accumulated annual leave.  

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

The Labour Department has issued an advisory (LINK) on the responsibilities for employers to bear the cost of the COVID-19 test and the cost of food and accommodation while the domestic helper they hired are in the 14-day quarantine.

We encourage employers and workers to have an open conversation to understand each other’s concerns. While the uncertainty due to Covid-19 is 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 leave arrangement.

Do I have to pay for the flights for home leave?

With every employment contract, you are responsible to pay for tickets from the home country to Hong Kong, and from Hong Kong to the home country. Note that by ‘home country’, this actually means the helper’s place of origin. This means that you are responsible for paying for all travel costs to get the domestic helper back to their home town or village.

For domestic helpers who are taking their leave before contract commencement…

This is means you are responsible for a one-way ticket from the home country to Hong Kong (upon contract commencement) and a one-way ticket from Hong Kong to the home country (upon contract termination or expiry).

For domestic helpers who are deferring leave…

In this case, when the domestic worker takes home leave, the employer is only responsible to cover a one-way trip from the home country to Hong Kong. The employer is also responsible for a one-way ticket from Hong Kong to the home country (upon contract termination or expiry).

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Last updated on November 23rd, 2020