Can a domestic helper travel with their employer?
Yes, a domestic helper can travel abroad with their employer, but there are a lot of practical issues that the employer will need to consider. We list a few of these important points below.
The domestic helper should give mutual consent to travel to another country with you. Keep the following points in mind when planning for your trip:
- Communicate openly with the helper before planning an overseas trip.
- Note that the helper may not want to travel or face the potential repercussions of being perceived to be working abroad in another country thus affecting their future employment as a domestic helper in Hong Kong.
- Put the travel agreement in writing, stating clearly duration, destination(s), 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 the helper to keep a copy.
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. Keep in mind that:
- Domestic helpers under an employment contract in Hong Kong are not allowed to perform work duties while they are entering another country on a tourist visa or 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 helper could face legal issues for violating immigration law by asking the domestic helper to perform work duties whilst travelling for leisure.
Be mindful of the travel period
We have seen both employers and domestic helpers being questioned by the Hong Kong Immigration at the time of returning to Hong Kong for travelling abroad for an extended period of time. Here a few points to keep in mind:
- Immigration will know how much time worker spent away from Hong Kong and ask for the reason and an explanation.
- The duration that you stay abroad may impact a contract renewal as 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 helpers 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 helper 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 a recruitment agency.
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. You are also recommended to look into travel insurance options for the domestic helper.
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 the helper leaves Hong Kong with you. The agency will then inform the relevant Consulate.
Other practical issues to consider before travelling
- Make sure to check the helper’s passport validity and visa expiry date.
- Agree on salary, accommodation and any other conditions and entitlements.
- If Fair Employment Agency is your agency, inform us about the travel plans.
Last updated on November 27th, 2023