FAQs on domestic helper home leave
What is domestic helper home leave?
Home leave (also called vacation leave) is a requirement by the Hong Kong Immigration Department for domestic helpers to return to their place of origin for at least 7 days during each employment contract. The home leave requirement is meant to ensure that migrant domestic helpers are able to go back home to their families at least one time per contract.
According to clause 13 of the Standard Employment Contract:
“Between contracts, unless with approval for extension of stay in Hong Kong, a domestic helper shall return to her place of origin for home/vacation leave for not less than 7 days. This leave is at the expense of the employer.”
When do domestic helpers need to take home leave?
The home leave requirement applies to domestic helpers whose visa is processed locally in Hong Kong. This applies to both domestic helpers changing employers and domestic helpers renewing their contract with the same employer. This includes:
- Contract renewal processing
- Finished contract processing
- Special case processing
Is domestic helper home leave different from annual leave?
Yes, though it can be quite confusing to understand the difference, home leave is different from annual leave. You can read about domestic helper annual leave in this article.
Home leave options for domestic helpers
The Hong Kong Immigration Department provides the employer and domestic helper with two home leave options ahead of signing the Standard Employment Contract.
1) Immediate home leave
If the employer and domestic helper choose the option of immediate home leave, Immigration will issue a temporary new visa for the domestic helper and the helper will need to leave Hong Kong within 7 days. The domestic helper will be automatically granted a full 2-year visa upon her return to Hong Kong after no less than 7 days of home leave.
For example, if immediate home leave is chosen and the temporary visa is issued on November 1, 2020, the domestic helper will need to go back to their country of origin for at least 7 days on or before November 8, 2020. When the helper returns to Hong Kong on for example November 25, 2020, they will get the remaining visa until November, 25 2022.
2) Deferred home/vacation leave
If the employer and domestic helper choose the deferred home leave option, Immigration will issue a one-year visa to begin with in order to make sure that the domestic helper returns to their place of origin within one year. Then, upon completion of the mandatory home leave period of no less than 7 days, the domestic helper will be automatically granted the remaining full visa.
For example, if deferred home leave is chosen and the visa is issued on November 1, 2020, the helper will get a one-year visa until November 1, 2021. The domestic helper will need to return to their country of origin for at least 7 days and re-enter Hong Kong on or before November 1, 2021. The helper will then receive their remaining visa until November 1, 2022 upon their return to Hong Kong.
Does the employer have to pay the domestic helper during the home leave?
Home leave can be paid or unpaid. This should be decided jointly by the employer and the domestic helper at the time of signing the employment contract.
If an employer is renewing the contract with a domestic helper, they will be required to indicate whether the home leave will be paid or unpaid under clause 13 of the Standard Employment Contract.
Does the employer need to pay for the domestic helper’s home leave flights?
Yes, the employer needs to pay for the domestic helper’s home leave flight tickets. According to the Standard Employment Contract, the employer is responsible for two flight tickets during each employment contract: one from the domestic helper’s place of origin to Hong Kong, and one from Hong Kong to the helper’s place of origin.
When an employer hires a new domestic helper who processed their visa in Hong Kong, the helper is required to fulfil the home leave requirement. In that case, the helper’s previous employer should have provided the helper with the home leave flight ticket (or payment in lieu of the flight ticket) back to their place of origin. The new employer is therefore responsible for the flight ticket from the helper’s place of origin back to Hong Kong.
Can a domestic helper exit to Macau in order to fulfil the home leave requirement?
No, it is illegal for a domestic helper to exit to Macau instead of returning to their place of origin in order to fulfil the home leave requirement. The reason for this is that the home leave requirement is meant to ensure that migrant domestic helpers are able to go back home to their families at least one time per contract.
What if the contract is terminated before the domestic helper can go on their home leave?
In the case of the helper not having taken home leave before contract termination, in addition to the regular termination entitlements due to a domestic helper following the termination of an employment contract, the employer will also need to ensure that the domestic helper receives all the necessary entitlements related to the untaken home leave, which include:
- Flight tickets and any local transportation fare to place of origin;
- Food and travel allowance ($100 per day of travel); and
- Wages in lieu of paid home leave (indicated in clause 13 of of the Standard Employment Contract).
What should be discussed ahead of a domestic helper returning to their place of origin either to fulfil the home leave requirement or due to a family emergency?
- Duration: How long will the domestic helper be away for? What factors could potentially cause trip delays or extensions?
- Salary: Will the home leave period be paid? If so, how will salary payments be made?
- Expenses: What are the other potential expenses that the helper will face during this time?
- Communication: How will you communicate with each other and how often while the helper is away? What information is key to be communicated during this time?
- Contingency plans: What is the plan should the helper need to stay for a longer time period in their place of origin? What are the options? What are the limits?
Last updated on July 25th, 2023