What do I need to know about hiring a driver?
Employers may hire a driver for their household because their current transportation options don’t fulfill the need for children’s attendance of many extra curricular activities or the needs of elderly in the home.
Migrant workers who are hired as personal drivers in Hong Kong are defined by the Hong Kong Immigration Department as Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) or “domestic helper” with special permission to perform driving duties. Drivers typically also tend to be male workers.
The Immigration Department must grant special permission for FDWs to hold driving duties. This means that aside from these special permissions, the visa status and requirements of drivers are the same as that of domestic helpers, including the live-in requirement. In this article, we highlight some important points to consider in hiring a driver.
Restrictions to Driving Duties
The most common reasons for hiring a driver we see are for employers with children who have many extracurricular activities and it is difficult to access by public transportation,
The driving duties in this case must be related to household duties as the worker holds a FDW visa. Special permission is given on the basis that the driving duties are related to any of the five broad categories of domestic duties.
These domestic duty categories are the basis of a FDW visa application and include: household chores, cooking, baby-sitting, child-minding and looking after aged persons in the household.
- Drivers can only drive passengers related to the domestic duties: which means children, elderly parents or those declared as caretakers.
- This means that drivers may not be allowed to drive employers exclusively.
- Driving to the office is not allowed to be included as a driving duty.
- The vehicle driven must be a family-friendly car (family saloon car or mini van), and cannot have more than 8 seats.
Processing a Driver application takes longer than the usual domestic helper processing timeline. From our experience, the Immigration Department takes 13-14 weeks to process Driver applications. The process is longer for employers who are hiring drivers for their 1st time.
These are the required documents for processing a domestic helper with driving duties:
- The worker must hold a valid HK driving license at the time of application.
- Vehicle registration document: If the vehicle is registered under the name of a company, a certificate / letter from the company showing that the vehicle is provided for personal and family use of the employer
- Valid motor vehicle license
- Documentation of insurance coverage of the worker for the vehicle he / she will be driving: See note on this below
Supporting letter & ID934A Application for Special Permission for Performance of Motor Driving Duties: See more important details on this below.
In the 1D934A form, employers are asked to provide justification for the worker, a FDW visa holder, to be performing driving duties. We suggest attaching a supporting letter to fulfil this requirement.
From our experience, these are the questions that are helpful to address in the supporting letter:
- What are the main journeys that the driver will be driving? Eg: from home to school, home to after-school activities, home to frequent doctor visits, etc.
- Give details of destinations, and how far they are from home.
- Give details of frequency of journeys. Eg: weekly basis
- Why is public transport not enough? Detail if your home is difficult to access with public transport.
Including other supporting documents will strengthen the application. These may include:
- Children’s school admission documents if the driver will be driving children to school.
- Proof of enrolment of after-school activities if the driver will be driving children to activities.
Employers should inform the insurance company that the car is covered by so that the worker is included in the “Named Drivers” list, and the “Unnamed Driver” excess can be avoided. Hong Kong car insurance often also have an excess for “Inexperienced Driver” for driving license holders of less than two years. Check with your insurance company for the amounts of these excess.
From our experience, workers applying for driving positions ask for a monthly salary of HK$9-15K depending on their level of experience, and generally expect overtime pay. Drivers will also prefer to focus on driving as their main duty.
During the recruitment process, applicants cannot be asked to do a test drive. This is because permission granted to FDW to drive by the Immigration Department is tied to the legal employer and the specific driving duties.
Here are some suggested questions for interviewing drivers:
- How well do you know the roads in HK island/ Kowloon/NT?
- What types of vehicles can you drive?
- Do you have any mechanical knowledge regarding vehicles? (e.g. changing a tire or handling minor common repairs)
- Do you do car washing?
- Are you willing to help with household chores (gardening, housekeeping, pet care etc)?
- What were your driving duties and what were your main journeys that you drove?
- What is your working hours? How do you feel about overtime?
- Have you had any car accidents before?
- How many points do you have in your driving offence points system?
The Live-In Requirement
Domestic helpers are required to live-in their place of work and residence of the employer. As drivers hold the same visa, this requirement also applies. Employers who are hiring a male driver while employing a female domestic helper will need to provide both workers with accommodations with adequate privacy within their home.
You may also be interested in:
- How long does processing a domestic helper visa take?
- Do I have to provide a separate room for a domestic helper?
- What salary should I pay a domestic helper?