Can a domestic helper travel with their employer?
Here are some considerations to know if you would like your helper to travel with you
1. Apply for the correct visa
Make sure to check with the immigration authorities of the country you’re going to. You should ask about the type of visa that domestic helpers need. A lot of countries have specific short-term visas for domestic helpers who are travelling with their employers. Without the appropriate visa, domestic helpers can be arrested for violating immigration law by working whilst travelling.
2. Check insurance policies
Employers should also check their Employee Compensation Insurance and medical insurance policies to make sure that the domestic helper will be covered wherever you are going.
3. Inform your employment agency
This may seem strange, but employers are strongly advised to inform their employment agency when going abroad with their domestic helper. Your agency has a duty of care to the domestic helper throughout the duration of the contract and should be informed if she leaves Hong Kong with you. The agency will then inform the relevant Consulate.
Can a domestic helper travel with their employer?
While technically a domestic worker can travel with their employer even during COVID, there are a lot of practical issues and uncertainties in these times that make travelling more difficult. Here are a list of factors you will need to consider:
Make sure to check with the Immigration department of the country of destination for the type of visa that is required to enter the country:
- Domestic workers under an employment contract in Hong Kong are not allowed to perform work duties while he/she is entering another country on a tourist visa and travelling for leisure
- Some countries have restrictions on non-residents entering the country and do not grant tourist visas
- Without the appropriate visa, the employer and the domestic worker could face legal issues for violating immigration law by asking the domestic worker to perform work duties whilst travelling for leisure.
We have seen both employers and workers being questioned by the Hong Kong Immigration at the time of returning to Hong Kong for travelling abroad for an extended period of time
- Immigration will know how much time worker spent away from Hong Kong and ask for the reason and explanation
- Please note that the duration that you stay abroad may impact your next contract renewal and immigration may have additional follow-up questions
- Check the contract expiry date in advance before planning your trip abroad to avoid the challenging situation when workers are stranded overseas with the 2-year-contract expiring soon or during the period abroad.
- If the 2-year-contract is going to expire soon, the employer can start the contract renewal process at earliest 8 weeks in advance and the domestic worker must be physically present in Hong Kong during the contract renewal process
- If you plan to renew the contract earlier than 8 weeks, then the employer will need to visit Immigration in person to explain why and ask for special consideration, bringing along the relevant supporting documents. This process cannot be done by the recruitment agency.
- If potentially your helper contract will expire during the travel period, then the employer will need to visit the immigration in person to ask for special consideration to renew the contract earlier than 8 weeks.
Your worker should give mutual consent to travel to another country with you
- Your helper may not want to travel and be exposed to potential risks of travelling during the pandemic or face the potential repercussions of being perceived to be working abroad in another country thus affecting her employment as a domestic helper in Hong Kong in the future.
- We recommend having this in writing and stating clearly the time duration abroad, the destination and/or all destination country(s) during the intended travel period, the duties to be performed while overseas, how salaries will be paid and other expectations or relevant information. Make copies of this consent letter and ask your helper to keep a copy.
- We suggest you have an open communication with your helper before planning to bring your helper with you to travel.
Other practical issues to consider before travelling:
- Check your helper’s passport validity and visa expiry date
- Insurance cover and travel insurance for your worker – it is also possible that your worker will get sick or fall ill during the travel period.
- Salary, accommodation and any other standard employment conditions and entitlements
- Vaccination requirements of the destination country and arrangement of PCR tests prior to travel
If Fair Employment Agency is your agency, inform us via email at least one month in advance as the agency may need to inform the consulate and conduct check-ins with the worker in the future. Let your employment agency know the destination and/or all destination country(s) during the intended travel period, the travel period and any other relevant information.
You might also like:
- What holidays are domestic helpers entitled to?
- What documents should a domestic helper prepare for holiday travel?
- Quick guide for Employers of Domestic Helpers
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Last updated on February 9th, 2023