Foreign Domestic Helper Corner Foreign Domestic Helper Corner

IMPORTANT MESSAGES


2020.09.30 New

Measures to assist foreign domestic helpers and employers to cope with COVID-19 pandemic extended

In view of the latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government today (September 30) announced that the previous measures to assist foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and their employers to cope with the special circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended with immediate effect.

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In view of the latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government today (September 30) announced that the previous measures to assist foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and their employers to cope with the special circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended with immediate effect.

Extension of validity period of existing contracts

The flexibility arrangement announced on February 4 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202002/04/P2020020400547.htm), March 19 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202003/19/P2020031900394.htm) and June 30 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202006/30/P2020062900892.htm) to enable employers to extend the validity period of the existing contracts with their outgoing FDHs will be further extended. The flexibility arrangement aims to assist those employers whose contracts with their existing FDHs are due to expire soon, but are in a situation in which the newly hired FDHs cannot fly in to commence the new contracts. The Commissioner for Labour has now given further in-principle consent for all FDH contracts that will expire on or before December 31, 2020, to vary the period stated in Clause 2 of the Standard Employment Contract by extending the period of employment up to January 31, 2021, on the basis that such variation is mutually agreed upon by both the employer and the FDH.

If the contract with the current FDH has already been extended under the flexibility arrangement announced on February 4, March 19 and/or June 30, the employer may submit an application to the Immigration Department (ImmD) to further extend the period of employment and the limit of stay of the FDH up to January 31, 2021, if both the employer and the FDH mutually agree to the variation.

Extension of limit of stay as visitors

As announced by the Government on March 21 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202003/21/P2020032000829.htm) and June 30 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202006/30/P2020062900892.htm), applications from FDHs to extend their limit of stay in Hong Kong as visitors will be flexibly considered. FDHs whose existing contracts are due to expire or are terminated on or before December 31, 2020, may apply to the ImmD for an extension of limit of stay in Hong Kong (for a maximum period of one month) as visitors for the purpose of finding a new employer in Hong Kong, if they are unable to return to their place of origin due to the pandemic in their place of origin and/or international travel restrictions arising from the pandemic.

An FDH who has already extended his/her limit of stay as a visitor in Hong Kong under the flexibility arrangement announced on March 21 and June 30 may submit an application to the ImmD to further extend his/her limit of stay as a visitor for the purpose of finding a new employer in Hong Kong. Without prejudice to the principle of guarding against abuse, the ImmD will exercise discretion to grant the FDHs concerned an extension of limit of stay as a visitor for a maximum period of one month depending on individual case merits.

The ImmD has been expediting the processing of employment visa applications submitted by FDHs who are in Hong Kong, especially applications for change of employer from those whose employment contracts have expired normally. At the same time, to combat abuse in changing employers through the arrangement for premature contract termination (commonly known as "job-hopping"), the ImmD will, during case assessment, continue to closely scrutinise the details of applicants, such as the number and reasons for their premature contract termination in the last 12 months. For suspected "job-hopping" cases, the ImmD will refuse the employment visa applications and require the applicants to leave Hong Kong.

Deferral of home leave

Under the prevailing mechanism, an FDH on a renewed contract with the same employer, or due to start a new contract with a new employer upon the expiry of an existing contract, may apply to the ImmD for deferring home leave for not more than one year after the existing contract ends, subject to agreement of his/her current employer or new employer.

As announced by the Government on March 21 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202003/21/P2020032000829.htm) and June 30 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202006/30/P2020062900892.htm), FDHs who have previously been approved to defer home leave upon the start of their new contract but need to further defer home leave may apply to the ImmD for further extension of limit of stay, subject to mutual agreement between FDHs and their employers.

In view of the latest situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDHs who are still unable to return to their place of origin for home leave within their current limit of stay may continue to apply to the ImmD for an extension of limit of stay. If the FDHs concerned who have already been granted further extension of stay as per the preceding paragraph (i.e. the total extension of limit of stay amounts to not more than 21 months) wish to further defer their home leave, the ImmD will, on individual case merits, consider exercising discretion to grant them a further extension of limit of stay for not more than three months.

Submission of applications for contract renewal

Under the prevailing arrangement, applications for contract renewal with the same employer after completion of the existing two-year contract will normally be accepted within eight weeks prior to the expiry of the existing contract. For FDHs who are applying for further extension of limit of stay under the above-mentioned "deferral of home leave" flexibility measure and if approved, and whose existing contracts will expire at the same time, they may submit the applications for "deferral of home leave" and contract renewal with the same employer to the ImmD in one go. The ImmD will, as a further facilitation measure, consider advancing the processing of the application for contract renewal. Nonetheless, employers are reminded that they should arrange for their FDHs to return to their place of origin for vacation within their extended limit of stay as far as practicable.

For enquiries, please contact the ImmD by calling the enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by email to enquiry@immd.gov.hk.


2020.09.29 New

Extension of COVID-19 testing service for foreign domestic helpers waiting to join new employers' family

The Labour Department (LD) announced today (September 29) that the free COVID-19 testing service for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) who are waiting to join the new employer's family will be extended to October 15.

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The Labour Department (LD) announced today (September 29) that the free COVID-19 testing service for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) who are waiting to join the new employer's family will be extended to October 15.

An LD spokesman said, "In view of confirmed infection cases of FDHs who had stayed in boarding facilities, the Government is providing the free COVID-19 testing service from August 25 to September 30 for FDHs whose previous employment contracts have expired or have been terminated and who are waiting to join the new employers' family. These FDHs are most likely to be staying in boarding facilities while waiting to change employers. To benefit more FDHs, the Government has decided to extend the testing service to October 15. We strongly encourage FDHs staying in boarding facilities to actively participate in the free testing to safeguard their health. Participants will be notified of the test results via SMS in about two to three days after collection of specimens, and positive cases will be referred to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health for follow-up. We appeal for employment agencies' active assistance in helping FDHs register for and take the test at the specimen collection centre. We also advise employers to check that their new FDHs have a valid negative test result before joining the family."

Eligible FDHs may, starting today, make appointments (including same-day appointments) for the combined nasal and throat swab testing service by calling the registration hotline 1836 133. The testing is voluntary and free of charge. The specimen collection centre is located at Harbour Road Sports Centre, 27 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. During the extended service period (October 1 to 15), the registration hotline will operate from 9am to 6pm and the centre will be open from 10am to 5pm daily.

Duty officers of the telephone booking service centre will register the name, Hong Kong identity card number and/or passport number and mobile telephone number of the FDH. Duty officers will ask for simple information regarding the eligibility of the FDH for the testing service, e.g. the reference number and limit of stay as shown on the latest visa issued by the Immigration Department (ImmD), or the reference number/date of application for a visa/extension of stay as a visitor as shown on documents issued by the ImmD. The FDH is advised to prepare the relevant documents beforehand for smooth registration. Upon successful registration, an SMS to confirm the date, time and location to conduct the specimen collection will be sent to the FDH.

Upon arrival at the specimen collection centre at the appointed time slot, the FDH will be asked to show his/her Hong Kong identity card, passport and SMS appointment confirmation to verify his/her identity. He/she will be asked to sign a consent form to give consent to taking the test and confirm his/her eligibility for the testing service.

The testing agency will collect specimens from the specimen collection centre and deliver them to the laboratory for testing. Participants will be notified of the test results (irrespective of whether they are positive or negative) via SMS. The testing agency will not acquire or retain any personal information of the participants. The testing agency will inform the LD of the serial numbers of the specimens with positive test results and the relevant cases will be referred by the LD to the CHP for follow-up.

For enquiries, please contact the LD by email at fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk


2020.09.29 New

Latest legislative amendments, directions and specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance gazetted

Having regard to the development of the COVID-19 epidemic situation in Hong Kong, the Government gazetted today (September 29) the latest legislative amendments, directions and specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap. 599) in order to combat the epidemic more effectively.

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Having regard to the development of the COVID-19 epidemic situation in Hong Kong, the Government gazetted today (September 29) the latest legislative amendments, directions and specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap. 599) in order to combat the epidemic more effectively.

A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said, "In light of the fact that local epidemic wave has continued to subside, we have relaxed social distancing measures in phases under a refined and sophisticated approach in a gradual and orderly manner over the past few weeks. Taking into account the importance of effective implementation of social distancing measures in reducing virus transmission in the community, the Government decided to amend the relevant regulations to enhance the related statutory framework to further reduce non-compliance with relevant requirements and restrictions at catering business and scheduled premises, as well as to extend the expiry date of the regulation related to the wearing of masks."

The global epidemic situation remains severe, thus there is a need for the Government to continue implementing cross-boundary epidemic control measures to prevent imported cases, in addition to social distancing measures within the community. As such, the Government will extend the expiry dates for the relevant regulations, and introduce refinements to the statutory framework under the relevant regulations to allow the Government to more flexibly relax the compulsory quarantine requirements on inbound arrivals from certain countries and places in a gradual manner after assessing the relevant public health risks.

In fact, the epidemic situation in Hong Kong has not yet fully stabilised. Silent transmission chains still exist in the community. Full co-operation of the public to continue to stay vigilant, maintain personal hygiene, observe epidemic prevention measures and keep social distancing is still essential at this stage so as to bring the epidemic situation under control and to sustain the hard-earned normal life and economic activities. To this end, the Government calls on the public to continue maintaining the awareness of epidemic prevention when resuming social and economic activities, especially during the long weekend with the National Day and the day following Mid-Autumn Festival holidays, and to continue to maintain personal and environmental hygiene with a view to preventing another outbreak in the community and the hard work the entire community has put in for more than two months from going in vain. Otherwise, when there is a rebound of the epidemic situation with another large-scale outbreak in the community, the Government will have no choice but to significantly tighten social distancing measures in order to safeguard public health.

The spokesman added, "The Government will review the various measures in place from time to time in accordance with the development of the epidemic situation, strike a balance among disease prevention and control, economic needs and level of acceptance of the society, and make suitable adjustments taking into account all relevant factors."

Social distancing measures
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Having regard to the latest development of the epidemic situation and risk assessment, the Government has relaxed social distancing measures under a refined and sophisticated approach in a gradual and orderly manner over the past few weeks, so as to allow social and economic activities to resume as far as possible under the new normal. The measures include relaxing the restriction on the number of persons allowed in group gatherings in public places, extending the hours when dine-in services are allowed in catering premises and relaxing the number of persons allowed to be seated together at one table, and reopening all catering business and scheduled premises.

The spokesman said, "Co-operation and self-discipline of members of the public is the key to the effectiveness of social distancing measures in preventing the spread of the disease in the community. Only with the co-operation of the public as a whole can the Government continue to allow resumption of social and economic activities in a gradual and orderly manner. Therefore, the public's concerted efforts in fighting the epidemic and compliance with requirements and restrictions applicable to individual premises is of utmost importance."

In view of the aforementioned development of the epidemic situation and the strategy in combatting the disease, there is a need in the near future to continue to maintain and enhance the statutory framework under which various social distancing measures are implemented so as to prevent a rebound in the epidemic situation through various social distancing measures when social and economic activities resume. To this end, the Government gazetted today the amendments, directions and specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (Cap. 599F), the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) and the Prevention and Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) Regulation (Cap. 599I) with details as follows:

(I) Catering premises and scheduled premises

(1) To enhance the enforcement effectiveness of the directions issued under Cap. 599F, Cap. 599G will be amended so that the relevant exemption under Cap. 599G would only be applicable to group gatherings at premises regulated under Cap. 599F if the requirements and restrictions in relation to group gatherings set out in the directions issued under Cap. 599F are complied with, otherwise the participants of the group gathering may be issued fixed penalty notices. The amendments will come into effect on September 30, 2020.

(2) To clarify the meaning of "sports premises" under Cap. 599F, Cap. 599F will be amended so that sports premises would refer to any premises designed, and for the time being used, for sporting activities. The amendment will come into effect on September 30, 2020.

(3) To maintain to a large extent the requirements and restrictions applicable to catering premises and scheduled premises (see Annex 1 for details) during the seven-day period from October 2 to 8, 2020.Amongst others, activities and facilities involving higher health risks such as dancing activities, steam and sauna facilities and ball pits will continue to be suspended or prohibited from opening. To provide more opportunities for the general public to exercise to maintain physical and mental health so that the public will be fit to continue to combat the epidemic, the latest directions will allow team sports at sports premises with the maximum number of persons allowed at more than four persons based on the particular team sports activities.

Persons responsible for carrying on catering businesses and managers of scheduled premises that contravene the statutory requirements under Cap. 599F would have committed a criminal offence. Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.

(II) Group gatherings

(4) To allow religious gatherings during which no food or drink is served (except food or drink as part of a religious ritual) by amending Cap. 599G to expand the scope of the existing exempted group gatherings (see Annex 3) to cover religious activities held at any premises constructed or regularly used as a place of worship (including a church, monastery or nunnery, mosque, synagogue or temple).Measures must be in place for restricting the number of participants in the activity to not more than 50 per cent of the number of persons that may normally be accommodated on the premises as a place of worship.The amendments will take effect on October 2, 2020.

(5) Unless exempted, the prohibition on group gatherings of more than four persons in public places will continue during the seven-day period from October 2 to 8, 2020.

In addition, any person who participates in a prohibited group gathering; organises a prohibited group gathering; owns, controls or operates the place of such gathering and knowingly allows the taking place of such gathering, commits an offence under Cap. 599G. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months. Persons who participate in a prohibited group gathering may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty of $2,000.

(III) Mask-wearing requirement

(6) The mandatory mask-wearing requirement under Cap. 599I will be extended for a period of seven days from October 2 to 8, 2020. During the aforementioned period, a person must wear a mask all the time when the person is boarding or onboard a public transport carrier, is entering or present in an MTR paid area, or is entering or present in a specified public place (i.e. all public places, save for outdoor public places in country parks and special areas as defined in section 2 of the Country Parks Ordinance (Cap. 208)).

(7) Taking into consideration the public health risk assessment, in particular the higher risks brought about by activities conducted without wearing masks, there is a need to maintain the relevant statutory framework under Cap. 599I in the near future. As such, the Government will extend its expiry date for more than two months till December 31, 2020.

Under Cap. 599I, if a person does not wear a mask in accordance with the requirement, an authorised person may deny that person from boarding a public transport carrier or entering the area concerned, as well as require that person to wear a mask and disembark from the carrier or leave the said area. A person in contravention of the relevant provision commits an offence and the maximum penalty is a fine at level 2 ($5,000). In addition, authorised public officers may issue fixed penalty notices to persons who do not wear a mask in accordance with the requirement and such persons may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty of $2,000.

Cross-boundary control measures
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Stringent cross-boundary epidemic control measures are integral to the Government's epidemic control work. To prevent the importation of cases, the Government will continue to stay vigilant and have to maintain suitable cross-boundary testing arrangements as additional safeguard in prevention and control of disease, so as to contain the potential risk brought about by the increase of passenger flow while relaxing the control on inbound passenger traffic progressively.

To enable the Government to flexibly relax in a gradual manner the compulsory quarantine requirement on inbound travellers from certain countries and places or those belonging to particular categories after assessing the relevant public health risks, the Government today gazetted amendments to the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation (Cap. 599C) and the Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation (Cap. 599E). The amendments empower the Secretary for Food and Health to specify any categories of persons when specifying Category 2 specified places to exclude the relevant persons from the requirements in respect of the compulsory quarantine arrangements subject to meeting certain conditions. The amendments will take effect on September 30, 2020.

The Government is now closely monitoring the situation of certain places where the epidemic situation has been under control for a sustained period of time with no local transmission for an extended period of time and the number of cases maintaining at a relative low level (such as the Mainland and Macao), in order to assess whether these places may be specified as Category 2 specified places. This would pave the way for allowing specific categories of persons (such as Hong Kong residents) to be excluded from the requirements in respect of the 14-day compulsory quarantine arrangements upon entry into Hong Kong subject to meeting certain conditions (such as obtaining a negative COVID-19 test result valid within a specific period) with a view to gradually allowing the resumption of the flow of people to/from these places when the epidemic situation permits. The Government will continue to closely monitor the epidemic situation and review the cross-boundary arrangements and capacities of the various boundary control points in Hong Kong and make announcements when the relevant arrangements are ready for implementation.

In addition, taking into account the need to continue to restrict movement of people between Hong Kong and other places and implement corresponding boundary control measures or compulsory quarantine measures on inbound travellers from different places in the near future, the Government will extend the expiry date of Cap. 599C and the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H) by more than two months to December 31, 2020.

The spokesman pointed out that, extending the expiry dates of the relevant regulations did not imply that the restrictions currently imposed under those regulations would be maintained until the corresponding expiry dates. Rather, the relevant statutory framework had provisions in place to allow flexibility such that the Government may tighten or relax or even suspend specific requirements and conditions subject to development of the epidemic situation in line with the "suppress and lift" strategy.

Annex: https://gia.info.gov.hk/general/202009/29/P2020092900903_350527_1_1601394933568.pdf


2020.08.25 

SLW visits specimen collection centre for COVID-19 testing service (with photos)

The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, visited the specimen collection centre at Harbour Road Sports Centre this afternoon (August 25) to learn more about the specimen collection process of the free COVID-19 testing service for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs).

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The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, visited the specimen collection centre at Harbour Road Sports Centre this afternoon (August 25) to learn more about the specimen collection process of the free COVID-19 testing service for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs).

"I strongly encourage FDHs staying in boarding facilities to actively participate in the free test to safeguard their health, especially before they join their new employers' family. Employers are advised to check that their new FDHs have a valid negative test result before joining the family. Also, employment agencies are encouraged to help FDHs register for and take the test at the specimen collection centre," Dr Law said.

As announced by the Labour Department on August 23, a COVID-19 testing service was launched for FDHs whose previous employment contracts have expired or terminated and who are waiting to join the new employers' family. The test is voluntary and free of charge.

FDHs are eligible for the free combined nasal and throat swab testing service if their previous employment contracts have expired or terminated and they are waiting to join the new employers' family at the time of making the appointment for the testing service. Eligible FDHs are required to make a prior appointment by telephone and provide their specimens at a specified time slot at Harbour Road Sports Centre. As at noon today, 239 FDHs have made an appointment for taking the test.

Eligible FDHs may dial the registration hotline 1836 133 (9am to 9pm daily) to make an appointment for specimen collection. Same-day appointment will not be offered by the registration hotline and any request without prior appointment will not be accepted. The specimen collection centre is located at Harbour Road Sports Centre, 27 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. It is open daily from 8.30am to 8pm and will operate until September 30.


2020.08.23 

Foreign domestic helpers waiting to join new employers' family may make appointment for free COVID-19 testing service from tomorrow

The Labour Department (LD) will commence registration tomorrow (August 24) for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) whose previous employment contracts have expired or have been terminated and who are waiting to join the new employers' family to make an appointment for a COVID-19 testing service. The testing is voluntary and free of charge. Eligible FDHs are required to make a prior appointment by telephone and provide their specimens at a specific time slot at Harbour Road Sports Centre, the designated temporary specimen collection centre.

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The Labour Department (LD) will commence registration tomorrow (August 24) for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) whose previous employment contracts have expired or have been terminated and who are waiting to join the new employers' family to make an appointment for a COVID-19 testing service. The testing is voluntary and free of charge. Eligible FDHs are required to make a prior appointment by telephone and provide their specimens at a specific time slot at Harbour Road Sports Centre, the designated temporary specimen collection centre.

A LD spokesman said, "To reduce the health risks faced by FDHs staying in boarding facilities of employment agencies (EAs) and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the community, the Government launched a free, one-off COVID-19 testing service for the FDHs on August 9. In response to recent confirmed infection cases of FDHs who had stayed in boarding facilities, some of which were not operated by EAs, the Government decided to expand the scope of the testing service to cover FDHs whose previous employment contracts have expired or have been terminated and who are waiting to join the new employers' family. This group of FDHs are most likely to be staying in boarding facilities while waiting to change employers."

"We strongly encourage FDHs staying in boarding facilities to actively participate in the free test to safeguard their health. Participants will be notified of the test results via SMS in about two to three days after collection of specimen, and positive cases will be referred to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health for follow-up. If an FDH needs to stay in a boarding facility for an extended period of time while waiting to change employer, he/she may re-take the test as appropriate, especially before joining the new employer's family. We appeal for EAs' active assistance in helping FDHs register for and take the test at the specimen collection centre. We also advise employers to check that their new FDHs have a valid negative test result before joining the family. For FDHs who are currently under employment contracts and are residing with their employers, they are encouraged to join the Universal Community Testing Programme to be launched by the Government shortly on September 1."

The specimen collection centre is located at Harbour Road Sports Centre, 27 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. The centre will commence service on August 25, opening daily from 8.30am to 8pm, and will operate until September 30.

FDHs are eligible for the free combined nasal and throat swab testing service if their previous employment contracts have expired or have been terminated and they are waiting to join the new employers' family at the time of making the appointment for the testing service. Eligible FDHs may dial the registration hotline 1836 133 starting from August 24, 9am to 9pm daily, to make an appointment for specimen collection on August 25 or later. Same-day appointment will not be offered by the registration hotline, and any request without prior appointment will not be accepted.

Duty officers of the telephone booking service centre will register the name, Hong Kong Identity Card number and/or passport number and mobile telephone number of the FDH. Duty officers will ask for simple information regarding the eligibility of the FDH for the testing service, e.g. reference number and limit of stay as shown on the latest visa issued by the Immigration Department (ImmD), or the reference number/date of application for a visa/extension of stay as a visitor as shown on documents issued by ImmD, etc. The FDH is advised to prepare the relevant documents beforehand for a smooth registration. Upon successful registration, an SMS to confirm the date, time and location to conduct the collection of specimen will be sent to the FDH.

Upon arrival at the specimen collection centre at the appointed time slot, the FDH will be asked to show their Hong Kong Identity Card, passport and the SMS appointment confirmation to verify their identity. He/she will be asked to sign a consent form to give consent to taking the test and confirm his/her eligibility for the testing service.

The testing agency will collect specimens from the specimen collection centre and deliver them to the laboratory for testing. Participants will be notified of the test results (irrespective of positive or negative) via SMS. The testing agency will not acquire or retain any personal information of the participants. The testing agency will inform LD of the serial number of the specimens with a positive test result and the relevant cases will be referred by LD to CHP for follow-up.

For enquiries, please contact LD by email at fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk.


2020.08.14 

Video on "Together, We Fight the Virus : Foreign domestic helpers"

2020.08.09 

Labour Department arranges from today onwards COVID-19 testing service for foreign domestic helpers staying in boarding facilities of employment agencies

​The Labour Department (LD) arranges from today (August 9) onwards a free, one-off COVID-19 testing service for all foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) staying in boarding facilities of employment agencies (EAs). The testing agency (Prenetics Limited) will deliver in batches specimen bottles to licensed EAs providing boarding facilities to FDHs for collecting deep throat saliva samples from the relevant FDHs.

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The Labour Department (LD) arranges from today (August 9) onwards a free, one-off COVID-19 testing service for all foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) staying in boarding facilities of employment agencies (EAs). The testing agency (Prenetics Limited) will deliver in batches specimen bottles to licensed EAs providing boarding facilities to FDHs for collecting deep throat saliva samples from the relevant FDHs.

An LD spokesman said, "The Government announced on August 6, 2020 that the scope of the COVID-19 testing for target groups would be expanded to FDHs staying in EAs' boarding facilities. A free, one-off COVID-19 testing service provided by a testing agency will be arranged for the relevant FDHs."

The spokesman continued, "There are at present around 1 200 EAs with main licences providing FDH placement services. LD has been actively contacting these EAs to confirm which of them provide boarding facilities to FDHs. LD will arrange the testing agency to distribute specimen bottles to the EAs concerned for collecting deep throat saliva samples from the relevant FDHs and collect the specimens in the subsequent one to two days for testing. Cases with a positive result will be relayed to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health for follow-up. EAs should fill out a form and pass to LD relevant information such as the number of FDHs that have been tested. The testing agency will pass the testing record form to EAs along with the specimen bottles. EAs shall submit the testing record form to LD on the day the testing agency collects the specimens or the day after."

"The testing agency will work closely with LD and determine the testing priority based on the number of persons staying in an EA boarding facility, manpower resources available, etc.  The testing agency will contact the relevant EAs before sending staff there so that the EAs can make arrangements. The virus testing is voluntary."

LD appeals to the relevant FDHs to actively participate in the testing scheme and continue to maintain personal and environmental hygiene. LD also urges EAs to strengthen health protection in their boarding facilities.  EAs can make reference to CHP's "Guidelines on Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for the General Public" (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/nid_guideline_general_public_en.pdf) and "A Guide to Personal, Home and Environmental Hygiene" (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/a_guide_to_personal_home_and_environmental_hygiene_keep_clean_be_healthy_booklet.pdf).

For details on the testing scheme, please call the hotline of the testing agency (Prenetics Limited) at 3008 8319 or contact LD through its dedicated email account for FDH matters (fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk).


2020.08.08 

Mobile broadcast conducted to appeal to foreign domestic helpers to comply with regulations on prohibition of group gatherings and mask-wearing requirement in public places (with photos)

​The Labour Department (LD), in collaboration with the Hong Kong Police Force (the Police) and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, starting from today (August 8), conducted mobile broadcasts for two consecutive days in popular gathering places of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to call upon them to comply with the regulations on the prohibition of group gatherings and mask-wearing requirement in public places.

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The Labour Department (LD), in collaboration with the Hong Kong Police Force (the Police) and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, starting from today (August 8), conducted mobile broadcasts for two consecutive days in popular gathering places of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to call upon them to comply with the regulations on the prohibition of group gatherings and mask-wearing requirement in public places.

Publicity vans parked at popular FDH gathering places across the territory to broadcast reminders in Chinese, English and major FDH languages (including Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia and Thai) to call upon FDHs to comply with the regulations on the prohibition of group gatherings of more than two persons and mask-wearing requirement in public places. During the broadcasts, promotional leaflets were distributed by officers from the departments concerned to appeal to FDHs to maintain environmental hygiene and refrain from conducting unlicensed hawking activities, including cooked food or other hawking activities. Also, the Police increased manpower to step up patrols at those places.

The LD's spokesman said, "The Government announced on August 3, 2020 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202008/03/P2020080300770.htm) that it had gazetted directions and specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) and the Prevention and Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) Regulation (Cap. 599I) to extend the social distancing measures already in place, including prohibition on group gatherings of more than two persons in public places and requiring a person to wear a mask at all times when the person is boarding or onboard a public transport carrier, is entering or present in an MTR paid area, or is entering or present in a public place (indoor or outdoor). Offenders are liable to prosecution. The Government reminds employers and FDHs to observe and comply with the relevant requirements and restrictions."

The LD will continue to conduct publicity to FDHs and appeal to them to avoid non-essential gatherings, stay at home for rest as far as possible, and maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene at all times to safeguard their personal health and public health.


2020.08.06 

Government implements a series of measures to reduce the health risks faced by foreign domestic helpers staying in boarding facilities of employment agencies

The Government announced today (August 6) that a series of measures will be implemented promptly to reduce the health risks faced by foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) staying in boarding facilities of employment agencies (EAs) and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the community.

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The Government announced today (August 6) that a series of measures will be implemented promptly to reduce the health risks faced by foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) staying in boarding facilities of employment agencies (EAs) and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the community.

Free COVID-19 testing and distribution of masks

A Government spokesman said, "As the epidemic in Hong Kong has remained severe, to strengthen anti-epidemic efforts, the Government has decided to arrange virus testing for different high risk groups to safeguard public health. The Government will expand the testing scope to cover FDHs staying in boarding facilities of EAs. A free, one-off COVID-19 testing service provided by a testing agency (Prenetics Limited) will be arranged for relevant FDHs."

The testing agency will provide one-stop service covering specimen collection and testing.  It will shortly deploy staff to licensed EAs providing FDH placement services to deliver specimen bottles for collecting deep throat saliva samples from FDHs staying in the EAs' boarding facilities. The specimens will then be collected by the testing agency after one to two days for testing. Cases with positive results will be relayed to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health for follow-up. The testing agency will work closely with the Labour Department (LD) and determine the testing priority based on the number of persons staying in an EA boarding facility, manpower resources available, etc.

In addition, to strengthen protection of the relevant FDHs, the Government will, from August 8 to 10, 2020, distribute masks to FDHs staying in EAs' boarding facilities via licensed EAs providing FDH placement services. Also, to shorten the time that FDHs will need to stay in EAs' boarding facilities, the Immigration Department will process applications for changing employers in Hong Kong from FDHs whose employment contracts have expired as soon as possible.

Regulation of employment agencies

During the COVID-19 epidemic, LD has approached EA associations a number of times to remind the industry that they cannot arrange FDHs arriving in Hong Kong to undergo compulsory quarantine in EAs' boarding facilities; and that EAs should avoid arranging FDHs to stay in crowded environments, be alert and remind FDHs to pay attention to personal hygiene and maintain social distance. EAs can make reference to CHP's "Guidelines on Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for the General Public" (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/nid_guideline_general_public_en.pdf) and "A Guide to Personal, Home and Environmental Hygiene" (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/a_guide_to_personal_home_and_environmental_hygiene_keep_clean_be_healthy_booklet.pdf).

Pursuant to the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies (CoP) promulgated by the Commissioner for Labour (the Commissioner), should an EA conduct any other activities (e.g. holding training classes or providing temporary accommodation) or non-EA related business at an EA's licensed address or other premises, the EA must comply with the relevant laws at all times. EAs in breach of the CoP may have their licences revoked or refused renewal by the Commissioner.

Publicity and education

On July 18, 2020, the Government gazetted the specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H) to impose conditions based on public health grounds in order to further reduce the number of imported cases of COVID-19. A traveller who, on the day on which the traveller boarded a civil aviation aircraft that arrives at, or is about to arrive at Hong Kong, or during the 14 days before that day, has stayed in any specified place (i.e. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa), he/she must meet the conditions specified by the Secretary for Food and Health. Since the relevant specifications came into effect at 0.00am on July 25, 2020, the number of FDHs coming from the specified places has dropped markedly.

The Government will continue to conduct publicity to FDHs and appeal to them to avoid non-essential gatherings, stay at home for rest as far as possible, and maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene at all times to safeguard their personal health and public hygiene. In particular, LD, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Police will conduct mobile broadcasts in Chinese, English and major FDH languages (including Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia and Thai) on August 8 and 9, 2020 at popular gathering places of FDHs to call upon FDHs to comply with the regulations on the prohibition of group gatherings and mask-wearing requirement in public places; conduct publicity to FDHs during the broadcasts; and distribute leaflets printed in FDH languages to appeal to them to maintain environmental hygiene, refrain from conducting unlicensed hawking activities, including cooked food or other hawking activities. Also, the Police will increase manpower to step up patrols at those places.

The Government spokesman said, "The Government announced on August 3, 2020 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202008/03/P2020080300770.htm) that it had gazetted directions and specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) and the Prevention and Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) Regulation (Cap. 599I) to extend the social distancing measures already in place, including prohibition on group gatherings of more than two persons in public places and requiring a person to wear a mask at all times when the person is boarding or onboard a public transport carrier, is entering or present in an MTR paid area, or is entering or present in a public place (indoor or outdoor). Offenders are liable to prosecution. The Government reminds employers and FDHs to observe and comply with the relevant requirements and restrictions. As of August 2, 2020, a total of 12 FDHs had been fined a fixed penalty of $2,000 for being in breach of the direction on prohibition of group gatherings in public places."

The spokesman continued, "When discussing rest day arrangements with their FDHs, employers should explain the current special circumstances and express mutual understanding in fighting the virus. Employers may encourage their FDHs to stay at home for rest, or take their rest day on weekdays instead of at the weekend. If FDHs choose to go out on their rest day, they should wear a mask, keep a distance of at least one metre from others where possible, avoid gathering and going to crowded places, and keep their hands clean at all times."

"Also, LD reminds employers that under the Employment Ordinance, if an employer requests an FDH to work on a rest day, the employer must substitute another rest day for the FDH within 30 days after the original rest day; the employer must also notify the FDH of the arrangement within 48 hours after he/she is required to work. Besides, an employer may substitute another rest day with the consent of the FDH, in which case it must be within the same month before the original rest day or within 30 days after it. An employer who compels his/her FDH to work on a rest day without the agreement of the FDH or fails to grant rest days to the FDH is in breach of the Employment Ordinance and is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000."

For any update and health information on COVID-19, please visit the Government's "COVID-19 Thematic Website" (www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng).  Information in Chinese, English, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Hindi, Sinhala, Bengali, Nepali and Urdu is available.


2020.07.31 

Leaflet and Poster on "Group gatherings with more than 2 people in public places prohibited" (Please refer to the press release dated 29 September 2020 for the latest information on the number of persons allowed in group gatherings in public places.)

Leaflet and Poster on "Group gatherings with more than 2 people in public places prohibited"

Leaflet

Leaflet and Poster on "Group gatherings with more than 2 people in public places prohibited"

Poster


Leaflet and Poster on "Compulsory mask wearing in public places"

Leaflet and Poster on "Compulsory mask wearing in public places"

Leaflet

Leaflet and Poster on "Compulsory mask wearing in public places"

Poster


2020.07.29

Review of the levels of the Minimum Allowable Wage and food allowance for foreign domestic helpers – invitation for written submissions

The Government is reviewing the levels of the Minimum Allowable Wage and food allowance for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and would like to invite views from FDH groups and FDH employer groups on the issue. In view of the latest COVID-19 situation and to reduce the risk of virus transmission, a face-to-face meeting could not be arranged for such purpose. We have therefore invited written submissions from FDH groups and FDH employer groups in this regard. Please send your submission to the Labour Department (LD), on or before 6 August 2020 (Thursday), by the following means –

...

The Government is reviewing the levels of the Minimum Allowable Wage and food allowance for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and would like to invite views from FDH groups and FDH employer groups on the issue. In view of the latest COVID-19 situation and to reduce the risk of virus transmission, a face-to-face meeting could not be arranged for such purpose. We have therefore invited written submissions from FDH groups and FDH employer groups in this regard. Please send your submission to the Labour Department (LD), on or before 6 August 2020 (Thursday), by the following means –



By post:
Policy Support Division
Labour Department
16/F, Harbour Building
38 Pier Road, Central, Hong Kong
By fax:
3101 1018
By email:


Should you have any enquiries, please contact LD at 2852 3626.


2020.07.21

Employers must sign undertaking when applying for visas for foreign domestic helpers

In view of the latest development and severity of the COVID-19 epidemic situation in Hong Kong, the Government has gazetted specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H, Laws of Hong Kong) (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202007/18/P2020071800038.htm) to impose conditions based on public health grounds on travellers who have visited certain specified high risk places (i.e. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa) within 14 days before arrival in Hong Kong, in order to further reduce the number of imported cases. The relevant specifications will come into effect at 0.00am on July 25, 2020, and will remain effective until further notice.

...

In view of the latest development and severity of the COVID-19 epidemic situation in Hong Kong, the Government has gazetted specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H, Laws of Hong Kong) (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202007/18/P2020071800038.htm) to impose conditions based on public health grounds on travellers who have visited certain specified high risk places (i.e. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa) within 14 days before arrival in Hong Kong, in order to further reduce the number of imported cases. The relevant specifications will come into effect at 0.00am on July 25, 2020, and will remain effective until further notice.

On July 18, 2020, the Labour Department (LD) reminded foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), employers and employment agencies to take note of the aforementioned specifications through a press release (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202007/18/P2020071800480.htm). For an FDH to whom the specifications apply, he/she must provide the following documents:

1. a letter or certificate in English or Chinese issued by a laboratory or healthcare institution bearing the name and identity card or passport number of the relevant FDH to show that:
(a) the relevant FDH underwent a nucleic acid test for COVID-19, the sample for which was taken from the relevant FDH within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure of the specified aircraft;
(b) the test conducted on the sample is a nucleic acid test for COVID-19; and
(c) the result of the test is that the relevant FDH had tested negative for COVID-19;
2. the original of the report for the test issued by the laboratory or healthcare institution bearing the name and identity card or passport number of the relevant FDH;
3. a letter in English or Chinese issued by the relevant authority of the government of the place in which the laboratory or healthcare institution is located certifying that the laboratory or healthcare institution is recognised or approved by the government; and
4. the relevant FDH has confirmation in English or Chinese of a room reservation in a hotel in Hong Kong for not less than 14 days starting on the day of the arrival of the relevant FDH in Hong Kong.

Employers shall bear the costs of the nucleic acid test and the accommodation expenses, as well as provide a food allowance to their FDHs during the compulsory quarantine.

To tie in with the above measures, the Immigration Department (ImmD) will implement a new arrangement on applications for FDH visas. With immediate effect, employers applying for a visa for their FDHs (including those applications having been submitted but pending approval or issuance of visas) will be required to sign an undertaking to indicate that they will arrange for the COVID-19 test and hotel quarantine for their FDHs, and be responsible for the relevant costs if their FDHs are arriving on or after July 25, 2020. 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.

The undertaking can be downloaded from the website of the ImmD at www.immd.gov.hk/eng/forms/hk-visas/foreign-domestic-helpers.html and obtained free of charge from the ImmD Headquarters and Immigration Branch Offices.

For enquiries on FDH visa applications, please contact the ImmD by calling the enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by email to enquiry@immd.gov.hk. For enquiries on employment rights and benefits, please contact the LD at the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by "1823") or by email to fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk.


2020.07.18

Labour Department reminds foreign domestic helpers and employers of specifications relating to travelling to Hong Kong

The Government announced today (July 18) that it had gazetted the specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H) to impose conditions based on public health grounds in order to further reduce the number of imported cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A traveller who, on the day on which the traveller boarded a civil aviation aircraft that arrives at, or is about to arrive at Hong Kong, or during the 14 days before that day, has stayed in any specified place (i.e. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa), he/she must meet the conditions specified by the Secretary for Food and Health. The relevant specifications will come into effect at 0.00am on July 25, 2020, and will remain effective until further notice.

...

The Government announced today (July 18) that it had gazetted the specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H) to impose conditions based on public health grounds in order to further reduce the number of imported cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A traveller who, on the day on which the traveller boarded a civil aviation aircraft that arrives at, or is about to arrive at Hong Kong, or during the 14 days before that day, has stayed in any specified place (i.e. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa), he/she must meet the conditions specified by the Secretary for Food and Health. The relevant specifications will come into effect at 0.00am on July 25, 2020, and will remain effective until further notice.

The Labour Department (LD) reminds foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), employers and employment agencies (EAs) to take note of the aforementioned specifications. For an FDH to whom the specifications apply, he/she must provide the following documents:

1. a letter or certificate in English or Chinese issued by a laboratory or healthcare institution bearing the name and identity card or passport number of the relevant FDH to show that:
(a) the relevant FDH underwent a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 the sample for which was taken from the relevant FDH within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure of the specified aircraft;
(b) the test conducted on the sample is a nucleic acid test for COVID-19; and
(c) the result of the test is that the relevant FDH was tested negative for COVID-19;
2. the original of the report for the test issued by the laboratory or healthcare institution bearing the name and identity card or passport number of the relevant FDH;
3. a letter in English or Chinese issued by the relevant authority of the government of the place in which the laboratory or healthcare institution is located certifying that the laboratory or healthcare institution is recognised or approved by the government; and
4. the relevant FDH has confirmation in English or Chinese of room reservation in a hotel in Hong Kong for not less than 14 days starting on the day of the arrival of the relevant FDH in Hong Kong.

An LD spokesman said, "Before the relevant FDH is checked-in for a flight to Hong Kong, he/she should produce the above documents to the operator of the aircraft for boarding the aircraft. Employers and EAs (if applicable) are reminded to make necessary preparations for their FDHs beforehand. If an FDH is not able to meet any of the conditions specified by the Secretary for Food and Health, he/she may not be allowed to board the flight to Hong Kong and newly arrived FDHs may be denied entry into Hong Kong upon arrival. Relevant FDHs are reminded to stay at the hotel address as stated in the quarantine order during the 14-day compulsory quarantine."

"Employers should bear the cost of the nucleic acid test for their FDHs. Employers applying to the Immigration Department (ImmD) to employ domestic helpers will be required to sign an undertaking to the Government, indicating that they will comply with the relevant specifications and bear the cost of the nucleic acid test when arranging for their FDHs to come to Hong Kong, in case their FDHs have stayed in a specified place on the day on which they boarded an aircraft that arrives at, or is about to arrive at Hong Kong, or during the 14 days before that day. Employers found to be in breach of the undertaking may be given an adverse record and ImmD may refuse their future applications for employment of FDHs. Employers are also reminded to comply with their obligations under the Standard Employment Contract, including bearing the accommodation expenses and providing food allowance to FDHs during the FDHs' compulsory quarantine," the spokesman continued.

"For EAs, they have the responsibility to provide correct information to employers and FDH. They should remind and/or assist employers in making relevant arrangements to comply with the relevant specifications. If there is evidence that an EA has violated the requirements in the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies, the EA concerned will be penalised."

A list of licensed hotels is available at the website of the Office of the Licensing Authority of the Home Affairs Department (www.hadla.gov.hk/cgi-bin/hadlanew/search.pl?client=1&searchtype=1&licenceNo=&name=&address=&room=0&district=0&displaytype=2). When choosing a hotel for quarantine purpose, employers and EAs (if applicable) are reminded to contact the hotel for more details and refer to the Infection Control Advice for Person under Compulsory Home Quarantine (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/infection_control_advice.pdf) issued by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health.

For enquiries on employment rights and benefits, please contact LD at the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by "1823") or by email to fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk. As to enquiries on FDH visa applications, please contact ImmD by calling the enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by email to enquiry@immd.gov.hk.


2020.06.30

Measures to assist foreign domestic helpers and employers to cope with COVID-19 pandemic extended

In view of the latest development of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government today (June 30) announced that the previous measures to assist foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and their employers to cope with the special circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended with immediate effect.

...

In view of the latest development of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government today (June 30) announced that the previous measures to assist foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and their employers to cope with the special circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended with immediate effect.

Extension of validity period of existing contracts

The flexibility arrangement announced on February 4, 2020 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202002/04/P2020020400547.htm) and March 19, 2020 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202003/19/P2020031900394.htm) to enable employers to extend the validity period of the existing contracts with their outgoing FDHs will be further extended. The flexibility arrangement aims to assist those employers whose contracts with their existing FDHs are due to expire soon, but are in the situation where the newly hired FDHs cannot fly in to commence the new contract. The Commissioner for Labour has now given further in-principle consent for all FDH contracts that will expire on or before September 30, 2020, to vary the period stated in Clause 2 of the Standard Employment Contract by extending the period of employment up to October 31, 2020, on the basis that such variation is mutually agreed upon by both the employer and the FDH.

If the contract with the current FDH has already been extended under the flexibility arrangement announced on February 4, 2020 and/or March 19, 2020, the employer may submit an application to the Immigration Department (ImmD) to further extend the period of employment and stay of the FDH up to October 31, 2020, if both the employer and the FDH mutually agree to the variation.

Extension of limit of stay as visitors

As announced by the Government on March 21, 2020 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202003/21/P2020032000829.htm), applications from FDHs to extend their limit of stay in Hong Kong as visitors will be flexibly considered. FDHs whose existing contracts are due to expire or are terminated on or before September 30, 2020 may apply to ImmD for an extension of limit of stay in Hong Kong (for a maximum period of one month) as visitors for the purpose of finding a new employer in Hong Kong, if they are unable to return to their place of origin due to the pandemic in their place of origin and/or international travel restrictions arising from the pandemic.

An FDH who has already extended his/her limit of stay as a visitor in Hong Kong under the flexibility arrangement announced on March 21, 2020 may submit an application to ImmD to further extend his/her limit of stay as a visitor for the purpose of finding a new employer in Hong Kong. ImmD will exercise discretion to grant the FDHs concerned an extension of stay for a maximum period of one month depending on individual case merits under the special circumstances arising from the pandemic.

Deferral of home leave

Under the existing mechanism, an FDH on a renewed contract with the same employer, or due to start a new contract with a new employer upon the expiry of an existing contract may apply to ImmD for deferring home leave for no more than one year after the existing contract ends, subject to agreement of his/her employer or new employer.

As announced by the Government on March 21, 2020 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202003/21/P2020032000829.htm), FDHs who have previously been approved to defer home leave upon the start of their new contract but need to further defer home leave may apply to ImmD for further extension of limit of stay for not more than six months, subject to mutual agreement between FDHs and their employers.

In view of the latest situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDHs who are still unable to return to their place of origin for home leave within their current limit of stay may continue to apply to ImmD for an extension of limit of stay. If the FDHs concerned who have already been granted a further extension of stay as per the preceding paragraph (i.e. the total extension of limit of stay amounts to not more than one and a half years) wish to further defer their home leave, ImmD will, on individual case merits, consider exercising discretion to grant them a further extension of limit of stay for not more than three months. Arrangements should be made by the employer for the FDH to return to his/her place of origin for vacation within the extended period, and to use his/her entry visa (with a validity in line with the extension of stay granted) upon his/her return to Hong Kong for completion of the contract.

For enquiries, please contact ImmD by calling the enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by email to enquiry@immd.gov.hk.


2020.04.04

Publicity efforts to encourage foreign domestic helpers and employers to fight COVID-19 together

The Labour Department (LD) announced today (April 4) that mobile broadcasts will be conducted tomorrow (April 5) in popular gathering places of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to call upon them to comply with the regulation on the prohibition of group gatherings in public places.

...

Publicity vans will park at popular FDH gathering places on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories to broadcast reminders in Chinese, English and major FDH languages (including Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia and Thai) on the regulation of the prohibition of group gatherings in public places. Leaflets in the same languages will be distributed to FDHs during the broadcast to appeal to them to comply with the regulation.

With effect from March 29 to April 11, group gatherings with more than four people in public places are prohibited and offenders are liable to a fixed penalty of $2,000, or if charged in a court, a maximum penalty of a $25,000 fine and imprisonment for six months.

A spokesman for the department said, "The mobile broadcasts will form part of the wide range of publicity measures rolled out in the past few days. The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, has made a personal appeal in a video message (isd.wecast.hk/vod/?id=10476). We appreciate the contribution of FDHs to Hong Kong society and understand that they would like to go out and meet friends during their rest days. However, it is essential that all of us practise social distancing to prevent the spread of epidemic. We appeal again to FDHs and their employers to exercise mutual understanding on rest day arrangements, including staying home for the rest or taking the rest day on weekdays instead of at the weekend."

Employers are reminded that compelling an FDH to work on a rest day without the agreement of the FDH or failing to grant rest days to the FDH is in violation of the Employment Ordinance. The employer concerned is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000.

A wide range of publicity measures were rolled out to convey the above messages to FDHs and their employers. These include joining efforts with consulates-general to promote the relevant messages to their nationals through their websites and social media platforms, distributing (also via electronic means) and posting leaflets and posters in major FDH languages in public and private housing estates across the territory, broadcasting appeal messages in radio programmes targetting FDHs, promoting on the Government's social media platforms, and screening publicity messages at enquiry centres of the Home Affairs Department.

Furthermore, some frequently asked questions and answers on rest day arrangements and relevant employment matters are available on the dedicated FDH portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk) of the Labour Department (LD) for employers' reference.

"We hope that the above publicity efforts would further help disseminate the messages to FDHs and employers and provide practical information to them. We appeal to their continued support in fighting the virus," the spokesman added.

For any update and health information on COVID-19, please visit the Government's COVID-19 Thematic Website (www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/). Information in Chinese, English, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Hindi, Sinhala, Bengali, Nepali and Urdu is available.

Should FDHs and their employers have enquiries on employment matters, they may seek the LD's assistance through its dedicated email account for FDH matters (fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk) and the online form on its dedicated FDH portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk).


2020.04.02

Secretary for Labour and Welfare appeals to foreign domestic helpers and employers to join hands in prevention of epidemic spread

The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, today (April 2) called upon foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and their employers to exercise a mutual understanding on rest day arrangements. He thanked FDHs for their contributions to Hong Kong society and appealed to them to observe social distancing in the fight against COVID-19. A series of publicity measures are underway to convey the messages.

...

In a video message appealing to all FDHs and employers to join hands in this fight, Dr Law said, "The Government has prohibited group gatherings with more than four people in public places. Offenders are liable to prosecution. We fully understand that most helpers would like to meet their friends during their rest days. However, we are now at a critical juncture in our fight against COVID-19, and it is essential that all of us practise social distancing to prevent the spread of the disease."

With effect from March 29 to April 11, group gatherings with more than four people in public places are prohibited and offenders are liable to a fixed penalty of $2,000, or if charged in a court, a maximum penalty of fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months./p>

Dr Law also appealed to employers to understand the current special circumstances and discuss the rest day arrangements with their helpers by encouraging them to stay home for rest, or take their rest day on weekdays instead of at the weekend. "Employers are also reminded that it is against the law to refuse to grant a rest day or compel your helpers to work on a rest day without consent," he added.

A wide range of publicity efforts have been undertaken to drive home the above messages. These include joint efforts with consulates-general to convey the messages to their nationals through their websites and social media platforms; putting up and distributing posters and leaflets (available in major FDH languages, including Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia and Thai) across the territory as well as through electronic means; and broadcasting appeal messages in radio programmes targeting FDHs.

Furthermore, some frequently asked questions and answers on rest day arrangements and relevant employment matters are available on the dedicated FDH portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk) of the Labour Department (LD) for employers' reference.

Apart from social distancing measures, the Government has implemented initiatives to assist employers and FDHs to cope with the special circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • All FDH contracts that expire on or before June 30 may be extended up to July 31 upon mutual agreement between the employer and the FDH (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202003/19/P2020031900394.htm);
  • FDHs whose existing contracts are due to expire or are terminated on or before July 31 may apply to the Immigration Department (ImmD) for an extension of limit of stay in Hong Kong (for a maximum period of one month) as visitor to facilitate them to find a new employer in Hong Kong (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202003/21/P2020032000829.htm); and
  • FDHs on a renewed contract with the same employer upon completion of the current contract, or those due to start a new contract with a new employer may apply to ImmD for deferring home leave for no more than 18 months.

For any update and health information on COVID-19, please visit the Government's "COVID-19 Thematic Website" (www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/). Information in Chinese, English, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Hindi, Sinhala, Bengali, Nepali and Urdu is available.

Should FDHs and their employers have enquiries on employment matters, they may seek the LD's assistance through its dedicated email account for FDH matters (fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk) and through the online form on its dedicated FDH portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk).

2020.04.01

Leaflet and Poster on "Group gatherings with more than 4 people in public places prohibited" (Please refer to the press release dated 29 September 2020 for the latest information on the number of persons allowed in group gatherings in public places.)

Leaflet on "Group gatherings with more than 4 people in public places prohibited"

Leaflet

Poster on "Group gatherings with more than 4 people in public places prohibited"

Poster


2020.03.28

Labour Department reminds foreign domestic helpers that group gatherings in public places will be prohibited

The Labour Department (LD) today (March 28) reminded foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) that group gatherings in public places will be prohibited starting from March 29.

...

The spokesman of the department said, "The Government announced today (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202003/28/P2020032800720.htm) that a notice will be issued in the Gazette in accordance with the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) to prohibit group gatherings with more than four people in public places. The notice will take effect at 0.00am on March 29 for 14 days. LD reminds employers and FDHs to observe and comply with the relevant Regulation and notice, and appeals to them to avoid social activities on their rest days and stay at home for rest as far as possible. Employers and FDHs may consider discussing rest day arrangements between themselves, including substituting another rest day, so as to avoid the health risk of participating in social activities."

The spokesman continued, "LD appeals to employers to explain the current special circumstances when discussing rest day arrangements with their FDHs and calls for their mutual understanding in joining hands to fight the virus. LD also reminds employers that under the Employment Ordinance, if an employer requests an FDH to work on a rest day, the employer must substitute another rest day for the FDH within 30 days after the original rest day; the employer must also notify the FDH of the arrangement within 48 hours after he/she is required to work. An employer who compels his/her FDH to work on a rest day without the agreement of the FDH or fails to grant rest days to the FDH is in breach of the Employment Ordinance and is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000."

For health advice on the prevention of pneumonia and respiratory tract infection, please visit the website of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/). Information in Chinese, English, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Hindi, Sinhala, Bengali, Nepali and Urdu are available.

Should FDHs and their employers have enquiries on employment matters, they may seek LD's assistance through the dedicated email account for FDH matters (fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk) and the online form on the dedicated portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk).


2020.03.27

Labour Department again appeals to foreign domestic helpers to refrain from gathering and crowding in public places

The Labour Department (LD) today (March 27) again appealed to foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to refrain from gathering and crowding in public places and stay at home for rest on their rest days as far as possible to safeguard their personal health and reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

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The spokesman of the department said, "In response to the COVID-19 infection, to safeguard FDHs’ personal health, LD issued a press release on January 30 to appeal to FDHs to stay at home for rest on their rest days as far as possible and stay away from crowds on public transport or at public places. In view of the recent changes in circumstances of the epidemic in Hong Kong, the Government announced on March 23 further enhancements to our anti-epidemic measures. LD again appeals to FDHs to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene at all times, avoid going out for social activities on rest days such as meal gatherings, and maintain an appropriate social distance with other people as far as possible. The Government notes that the consulates-general of FDHs' home countries have similarly appealed to their nationals to stay at home whenever possible, avoid crowded places and practise social distancing."

The spokesman continued, "FDHs may consider discussing rest day arrangements with their employers, including substituting another rest day, so as to avoid the health risk of gathering in crowded places. Under the Employment Ordinance, if an employer requests an FDH to work on a rest day, the employer must substitute another rest day for the FDH within 30 days after the original rest day; the employer must also notify the FDH of the arrangement within 48 hours after he/she is required to work. LD appeals to employers to explain the current special circumstances when discussing rest day arrangements with their FDHs and calls for their mutual understanding in joining hands to fight the virus. LD also reminds employers again that an employer who compels his/her FDH to work on a rest day without the agreement of the FDH or fails to grant rest days to the FDH is in breach of the Employment Ordinance and is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000."

For health advice on the prevention of pneumonia and respiratory tract infection, please visit the website of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/). Information in Chinese, English, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Hindi, Sinhala, Bengali, Nepali and Urdu are available.

Should FDHs and their employers have enquiries on employment matters, they may seek LD's assistance through the dedicated email account for FDH matters (fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk) and the online form on the dedicated portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk).


2020.03.21

Foreign domestic helpers applying to extend limit of stay to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic

In response to the latest development of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government today (March 21) announced that applications from foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to extend their limit of stay in Hong Kong as visitors will be flexibly considered.

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The Government spokesman said, "In view of the special circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, which might affect the arrival and departure of FDHs from/to their place of origin, the Immigration Department (ImmD) will flexibly consider applications from FDHs to extend their stay in Hong Kong as visitors for the purpose of finding a new employer in Hong Kong if their existing contract is due to expire or is terminated on or before July 31, 2020. The FDH concerned may apply to ImmD for an extension of stay as a visitor for a maximum period of one month in Hong Kong, if he/she is unable to return to his/her place of origin due to the pandemic in his/her place of origin and/or international travel restrictions arising from the pandemic. ImmD will exercise discretion depending on individual case merits under the special circumstances arising from the pandemic."

"In addition, under the existing mechanism, an FDH on a renewed contract with the same employer, or due to start a new contract with a new employer upon the expiry of an existing contract may apply to ImmD for deferring home leave for no more than one year after the existing contract ends, subject to agreement of his/her employer or new employer. Owing to the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, an FDH may apply to ImmD for further extension of limit of stay if he/she is unable to return to his/her place of origin for home leave within his/her extended limit of stay. ImmD will, on individual case merits, exercise discretion to grant him/her an extension to further defer the home leave for not more than six months. Arrangements should be made for the FDH to return to his/her place of origin for vacation within the extended period, and to use his/her entry visa (with a validity in line with the extension of stay granted) upon his/her return to Hong Kong for completion of the contract," the Government spokesman continued.

For enquiries, please contact ImmD by calling the enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by email to enquiry@immd.gov.hk.

For more details on deferring the home leave, please refer to Q8 of Frequently Asked Questions on the Immigration Department’s website (https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/faq/foreign-domestic-helpers.html#application).


2020.03.19

Flexibility arrangement to extend validity period of foreign domestic helpers' contracts and points to note for home quarantine for foreign domestic helpers travelling to Hong Kong

In response to the latest development of the COVID-19 infection, the Government today (March 19) announced that the flexibility arrangement to extend the validity period of the contracts of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) will be extended with immediate effect. The Labour Department (LD) also appeals to employers of FDHs and employment agencies (EAs) to make necessary arrangements to accommodate the compulsory home quarantine for FDHs travelling to Hong Kong, which is effective today.

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"The Government will extend the flexibility arrangement announced on February 4, 2020 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202002/04/P2020020400547.htm) to enable employers to extend the validity period of the contracts with their outgoing FDHs. The flexibility arrangement aims to assist those employers whose contracts with their existing FDHs are due to expire soon, but are in the situation where the newly hired FDHs cannot fly in to commence the new contract. The flexibility arrangement can help the affected families by allowing them to continue retaining their current FDHs temporarily while waiting for the new FDHs to report for duty. This will also help the FDHs waiting to report for duty to retain their contracts with their employers," a Government spokesman said.

According to Clause 15(a) of the Standard Employment Contract (SEC), an employer may vary Clause 2 of the SEC to extend the period of employment by not more than one month by mutual agreement between the employer and the FDH, and with approval from the Director of Immigration. Prior consent from the Commissioner for Labour is required for extending the period of an FDH contract beyond a month. Under the flexibility arrangement announced on February 4, 2020, the Commissioner for Labour has given in-principle consent for all FDH contracts that will expire on or before March 31, 2020, to be extended up till May 31, 2020, provided that such variation is mutually agreed by both the employer and the FDH.

In response to the latest development of the COVID-19 infection, the Commissioner for Labour has now given further in-principle consent for all FDH contracts that will expire on or before June 30, 2020, to vary the period stated in Clause 2 of the SEC by extending the period of employment up to July 31, 2020, on the basis that such variation is mutually agreed by both the employer and the FDH. Employers and FDHs in need may apply directly to the Director of Immigration for extension of the period of employment and stay of the FDHs on or before June 30, 2020. Upon receiving the applications, the Immigration Department (ImmD) will process them in accordance with its established procedures and policies.

"If the contract with the current FDH has already been extended under the flexibility arrangement announced on February 4, 2020, the employer may still submit an application to ImmD to further extend the period of employment and stay of the FDHs up to July 31, 2020, if both the employer and the FDH mutually agree to the variation," the Government spokesman said.

Applications for extension of stay of FDHs may be submitted during office hours or by post to the Foreign Domestic Helpers Section at Immigration Tower in Wan Chai. The required documents for submitting the applications are as follows:

  • Visa/Extension of Stay Application Form for Domestic Helper from Abroad (ID 988A) completed and signed by the FDH;
  • the current SEC (ID 407) kept by the employer and the FDH with an amendment clause on extending the period of employment duly signed by both parties at the end of page 4;
  • a supporting letter signed by the employer stating the reason(s) for extending the period of employment;
  • the FDH's travel document (please send a copy if applying by post); and
  • a visa fee of $230.

The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely and review the above flexibility arrangement as necessary.

Meanwhile, following the Department of Health (DH)'s demand that inbound travellers arriving from all countries/territories should undergo compulsory home quarantine with effect from 0.00am on March 19, 2020, the LD appeals to the assistance of FDH employers and their EAs in reminding FDHs to comply with the compulsory quarantine requirement. Employers or their EAs are also advised to educate FDHs under compulsory home quarantine to stay at home at all times and follow the health advice of the DH. While FDHs are expected to stay at their employers' residence, should an employer wish to arrange his/her FDH to stay out from his/her residence for compulsory home quarantine, the employer should make prior arrangement with his/her EA (if applicable) to accommodate the FDH concerned. The employer is also reminded to comply with his/her obligations under the SEC, including bearing the accommodation expenses of the FDH and providing a food allowance to the FDH. An employer shall not compel his/her FDH to work outside of the employer's residence.

CHP's guidelines on home quarantine CHP's guidelines on quarantine in hotels


2020.03.18

Labour Department appeals to employers and employment agencies to make arrangements for foreign domestic helpers undergoing compulsory home quarantine

The Labour Department (LD) today (March 18) appeals to employers of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and employment agencies (EAs) to make necessary arrangement to accommodate the compulsory home quarantine for FDHs travelling to Hong Kong.

Following the Red Outbound Travel Alert announced by the Government on March 17, 2020 on all overseas countries/territories based on public health considerations, the Department of Health (DH) has extended health quarantine arrangements on inbound travellers arriving from all countries/territories accordingly and demand them to undergo compulsory home quarantine with effect from 0.00am on March 19, 2020.

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LD appeals to the assistance of FDH employers and their EAs in reminding FDHs to comply with the compulsory quarantine requirement. While FDHs are expected to stay at their employers' residence, should an employer wish to arrange the FDH to stay out from his/her residence, the employer should make prior arrangement with his/her EA (if applicable) to accommodate the FDH concerned. The employer is reminded to comply with his/her obligations under the Standard Employment Contract, including bearing the accommodation expenses and providing food allowance to the FDH. An employer shall not compel his/her FDH to work outside of the employer's residence. Employers or their EAs are also advised to educate FDHs under compulsory home quarantine to stay at home at all times and follow the health advice of DH.

For enquiry on employment rights and benefits, please contact LD at the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by "1823") by email at fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk.


2020.03.18

Prevention of Pneumonia and Respiratory Tract Infection

Prevention of Pneumonia and Respiratory Tract Infection

Prevention of Pneumonia and Respiratory Tract Infection

Reduce social contact to protect yourself and others

Reduce social contact to protect yourself and others

Use serving chopsticks and spoons

Use Serving Chopsticks and Spoons (Available in Chinese / other languages only)


2020.02.19

Employer and domestic helpers work together to fight the virus

To prevent the spread of novel coronavirus in the community, we all need to work together. Reduce social contact to protect yourself and others: stay at home as far as possible; stay away from crowded places; avoid social gatherings; do not shake hands when meeting other people; and avoid meal gatherings.

For details, please refer to the thematic webpage ( www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/ ) of the Centre for Health Protection. Information in other languages including Hindi, Nepali, Urdu, Thai, Bahasa Indonesia, Tagalog, Bengali, Sinhala and Vietnamese are available.

Source: Facebook page of the Centre for Health Protection, DH


2020.01.30

Prevention of Novel Coronavirus Infection - Encourage Foreign Domestic Helpers to Stay Home on their Rest Day

The Labour Department (LD) appealed to foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to stay home on their rest day in order to safeguard their personal health and to reduce the risk of the spread of the novel coronavirus in the community.

The spokesman said, "The response level under the 'Preparedness and Response Plan for Novel Infectious Disease of Public Health Significance' has been raised to Emergency Response Level with effect from January 25. The public should refrain from gathering so as to minimise the risk of infection. The Government notes that the Philippine and Indonesian Consulates-General have also appealed to their nationals to take necessary health precautions and avoid large crowds or gatherings."

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"The Government appeals to FDHs to stay home for rest on their rest day as far as possible, and to stay away from crowds on public transport or at public places. At the same time, employers must not require FDHs to work on their rest day. If it is necessary for FDHs to go out, they are advised to wear a surgical mask and to avoid staying in crowded places. If a FDH or his/her employer has visited the Mainland recently, he/she should wear a surgical mask and stay home for 14 days upon return to Hong Kong as far as possible," the spokesman continued.

LD appeals to employers to explain the special circumstances in discussing rest day arrangements with their FDHs and calls for mutual understanding. In particular, LD reminds that an employer who compels his/her FDH to work on a rest day is in breach of the Employment Ordinance and is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000.

For further health advice on the prevention of pneumonia and respiratory tract infection, please visit the thematic website of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (DH) (www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/) or call the DH's hotline (2125 1122).

Information in Chinese, English, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Hindi, Sinhala, Bengali, Nepali and Urdu are available.

For enquiry on employment rights and benefits, please call the LD's 24-hour enquiry hotline at 2717 1771 (the hotline is manned by "1823"). Employers may also make reference to the press release on LD's appeal to employers to make arrangement to reduce the risk of the spread of novel coronavirus in the community (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202001/30/P2020013000285.htm).


2020.01.29

Encourage foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to receive Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination

To prevent infection and transmission in the community, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health advises all FDHs who are non-immune to either measles or rubella to receive MMR vaccine, preferably before they arrive in Hong Kong. If this is not possible, they can consult a doctor after they have arrived in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong adult residents who are non-immune to measles may receive free MMR vaccines starting from 3 February. The service period lasts for around six months. In particular, the Government encourages participation from people who are non-locally born, people of all ethnicities, post-secondary students, FDHs and people who have frequent contact with tourists. Eligible Hong Kong residents who wish to join the programme must make prior booking for vaccination. For details, please refer to www.chp.gov.hk/en/features/101938.html.


WELCOME MESSAGE

This portal provides information relating to employment of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) in Hong Kong, including the policy on importation of FDHs, as well as the publication and publicity materials on the rights and obligations of FDHs and their employers under the labour laws and the Standard Employment Contract for hiring FDHs. Both FDHs and their employers are encouraged to read the information in this website as well as the relevant materials before entering into a contract, or during the course of employment.

While it is not a requirement by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government that employers must recruit FDHs through, or FDHs to obtain employment from, employment agencies (EAs), it is a very common channel through which Hong Kong people employ FDHs. Respective home countries of FDHs may also have such requirement and they vary across countries. FDHs and employers are also encouraged to read the "Engaging an employment agency" section for the points to note when using the service of EAs. They may also use the search engine in the page for identifying EA(s) with valid licence in Hong Kong.

For matters relating to the eligibility criteria and procedures for applying for employment of FDHs, please visit the website of the Immigration Department.

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