What should an employer do when the domestic helper first arrives to their home?

There are many practical items to take care of once the domestic helper has arrived to your home in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. It is important to make the domestic helper feel welcome and provide them with useful practical information. At this stage, it is also important for you to set clear expectations and boundaries. Below we provide employers with a list of important onboarding steps.

On the helper’s first day

  • Introduce your family: Introduce the helper to all the family members in the household. Mention how you prefer each of them to be addressed and let the helper know which family members they will be caring for, if any. A family booklet including pictures and important information about each family member can be helpful to the helper during these first few days.
  • Introduce your home: Show the helper around your home, including common and private areas, and make sure to point out where important items such as the first-aid kit and emergency contact list are kept. 
  • Get the helper settled in: Show the helper to their accommodation and make sure that they have everything they need, including bed sheets, towels, and personal hygiene items. If possible, provide the helper with internet access in order for them to be able to contact their family back home. 
  • Discuss practical arrangements: Go through the previously agreed-upon practical arrangements including weekly rest day, monthly salary and food arrangement. Make sure to share information with the helper about their insurance plan.
  • Introduce your house rules: Go over your general house rules and, if you can, provide a list of the rules in writing in order to avoid confusion. Take this opportunity to talk about your family culture, values and lifestyle. 
  • Verify agency recruitment fees: Make sure to ask the helper about what they actually paid during the recruitment process to make sure that the helper wasn’t charged any illegal recruitment fees by the agency. Also make sure to check that the agency is not withholding the helper’s passport. Find information on how to report overcharging or withholding of personal identification documents here.
  • Take care of important admin: Confirm that the helper has received a signed copy of the original employment contract. Make sure to reimburse relevant expenses to the helper, and schedule a Hong Kong ID appointment at the Hong Kong Immigration Department, if relevant.
  • Explore the neighbourhood: Show the helper how to navigate the neighbourhood by pointing out grocery shops, transportation options, children drop-off places, leisure places, etc. Introduce digital apps to facilitate daily tasks, such as Google Translate and Google Maps, but remember that a newly arrived helper might need help in learning these tools.

Next steps in onboarding

  • Introduce the onboarding schedule: Go through the onboarding plan and schedule with the domestic helper in order to clarify immediate learning priorities as well as what training will look like during the first couple of weeks of employment.
  • Be clear about your expectations: Use this time to set clear expectations and boundaries on roles, behaviours, and responsibilities. Provide these in writing as well, together with schedules, check-lists, house rules, meal plans, and calendars to make tasks and responsibilities more clear. 
  • Set up communication channels: Clarify what your preferred communication channels for urgent questions are. Also make sure to set up a time for a regular check-in meeting with the helper every week.
  • Align the team: If there are other family members (e.g. grandparents) and/or multiple co-helpers in the household, you will need to define management responsibilities, division of duties, and communication expectations with everyone involved.
  • Plan for the unexpected: Discuss what the helper is expected to do in an emergency situation and provide them  with a quick step-by-step guide (preferably in writing) on how to handle emergency situations such as injuries and medical emergencies. Make sure to provide the helper with an emergency contact list in writing.

Set the helper up for success 

  • Remember you are a manager: A healthy working-relationship requires thorough training, ongoing management, open communication, and professional boundaries that work for both you and the domestic helper. Remember that you are an employer and a manager.
  • Make time to check-in: Make sure that you stick to the scheduled regular check-ins in order for you and the domestic helper to build rapport, discuss work performance, follow up on onboarding questions, and plan ahead.
  • Expect a transition period: Even an experienced domestic helper will need time to learn new skills and adjust to your family’s preferences and needs. Remember that you and your family will also need some time to adjust to this new situation.
  • Prepare for the future: Help the helper to prepare for the future by helping them to open a bank account and depositing their salary into this. Sign the helper up for a financial education program or any other upskilling training opportunities available to domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Find a list of available courses here

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Fair Employment Agency is a nonprofit agency. We put a lot of work into producing high quality, accurate and updated information resources because when employers and domestic helpers are informed, they are empowered to make good choices. If you found this article helpful, please consider donating to support us through Fair Employment Foundation, a registered section 88 charity in Hong Kong, which builds social businesses (like us!) to make migrant recruitment fair to workers & fair to employers.

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