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Can employers ask domestic helpers to stay in on their day off during COVID-19?

For workers, their day off is the only time that they have to manage personal matters. Understandably, they may wish to spend their day off outside. Employers and domestic helpers should have open communication with an understanding of each other’s concerns for health and work boundaries.

Domestic helpers are entitled to one rest day per week. Emergencies aside, it is illegal for you to compel a domestic helper to work on a rest day. Domestic helpers are entitled to a full 24 hour rest period and you should not ask them to work at all during this period. This is one of the reasons that setting a curfew is generally not acceptable. Read more about rest days: HERE

If by mutual agreement, domestic helpers would like to stay home during their day off, here are some helpful tips:

Set boundaries and expectations for a day-off at home: 

Common concerns of workers about staying home on their day off include being expected to work on their day-off, and feeling uncomfortable if they don’t have a personal space in the house. 

Explain to all members of your household that your worker will be spending their day off at home and will not be on duty. Provide reassurance that your worker is welcome to stay at home and have their day-off.

Increase awareness: Domestic helpers may not have good access to updates about the coronavirus situation, and there is a lot of misinformation and fake news circulating on social media. Employers can help their domestic helpers keep updated about the virus situation in Hong Kong, and to understand preventative measures such as:

Hygiene products: Employers can make sure their domestic helper also has access to protective materials, and that she has masks and hand sanitizer not only when working but also on her day off.

Set some household policies

For example, set rules such as:

 

Hygiene Guidelines by Helpwise

Helpwise is a consultancy service for employers of domestic helpers in Hong Kong. They have developed this resource to help employers establish hygiene guidelines with their domestic helpers for their home: HERE.

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

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

What is the situation in Hong Kong regarding the coronavirus?

  • Centre for Health Protection (CHP) provides updates on the situation and educational materials: here
  • Help your domestic helper stay up to date on new regulations by sharing news updates and announcements.

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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. If you found this article helpful, please consider donating through Fair Employment Foundation (tax-deductable for amounts over HK$100). Click HERE for donation instructions.



Last updated on July 21st, 2020
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