FAQs on domestic helper annual leave
What is domestic helper annual leave?
Annual leave is the same as paid holiday days. It is an employee entitlement under the Hong Kong Employment Ordinance and applies to domestic helpers too.
How many days of annual leave are domestic helpers entitled to?
A domestic helper is entitled to paid annual leave increases by one additional day per each year of service. A domestic helper annual leave entitlement starts at 7 days in the first year of employment, and goes up to a maximum of 14 days.
We outline below how many annual leave days an employer is required to give a domestic helper according to how many years the helper has worked for the employer:
|Years of Service||Annual Leave Entitlement|
|Year 1||7 days|
|Year 2||7 days|
|Year 3||8 days|
|Year 4||9 days|
|Year 5||10 days|
|Year 6||11 days|
|Year 7||12 days|
|Year 8||13 days|
|Year 9||14 days|
Note that the maximum amount of legally mandated paid annual leave days is reached after 9 years. Even so, employers can choose to provide domestic helpers with additional annual leave beyond the 14 days as an incentive or bonus.
How is annual leave arranged?
Annual leave dates should be discussed between the employer and the domestic helper. Once an agreement has been reached, the exact annual leave dates should be confirmed through written notice at least 15 days in advance, unless a shorter period has been mutually agreed.
Paid annual leave should be granted for an unbroken period of time. Any rest day or statutory holiday falling within a period of annual leave will be counted as annual leave and another rest day or holiday will need to be arranged once the helper is back from their annual leave.
If the domestic helper requests, according to the Employment Ordinance annual leave should be granted according to the following conditions:
- If the domestic helper is entitled to less than 10 days of annual leave, up to 3 days can be granted separately while the remaining balance should be granted consecutively.
- If the domestic helper is entitled to more than 10 days of annual leave, at least 7 days should be granted consecutively.
As a general rule, employers and domestic helpers are encouraged to have open communication so that a mutually acceptable arrangement can be reached.
In addition to this, it is recommended that both employers and domestic helpers keep written records of the annual leave arrangement signed by both parties.
Can domestic helpers receive cash for the unused annual leave?
Some domestic helpers may have accumulated a number of annual leave days. The following two options are the only times when domestic helpers may receive cash in lieu of annual leave:
- If the domestic helper is entitled to more than 10 days of annual leave, they may choose to accept payment as part of their leave entitlement. 10 days must be taken as annual leave days while they may receive cash for the remaining difference.
- Upon termination of contract, if the domestic helper has worked for the employer for more than three months, and the reason for termination is not summary dismissal, all accumulated untaken annual leave can be settled in cash.
How is domestic helper annual leave different from home/vacation 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. For that reason, home leave is a domestic helper entitlement in addition to annual leave.
Whereas the employer is not responsible for the helper’s travel expenses when traveling abroad during their annual leave, travel expenses for home leave must be shouldered by the employer.
You can read more about the home leave entitlement for domestic helpers here.
Where to find more information about domestic helper annual leave?
You can find more information about domestic helper annual leave in the Hong Kong Labour Department Practical Guide For Employment of Foreign Domestic Helpers.
You can also visit the Labour Department website for more information on commonly asked questions about the annual leave entitlement for domestic helpers.