What should I consider when hiring a co-worker for a domestic helper?

There are several reasons why employers should consider hiring an additional helper. These include:

  • increase in workload due to changes in household and lifestyle
  • the addition of a new child or elderly parent in the home
  • to fulfill a need for a specialization such as cooking, childcare, or elderly care.


Hiring additional help may provide extra relief in the household, but managing more than one domestic helper has its own challenges. Employers should keep in mind that hiring a co-worker for the domestic helper can affect the dynamic of your household. Keep the following points in mind when starting the hiring process:


  • Financial requirement

Hiring more than one domestic helper means the visa application criteria for proving your financial capability will also increase. The Immigration requires a minimum total income of $15,000 a month per domestic helper hired.


  • Justification for the additional hire

Employers will need to write a letter to the Immigration Department stating the reasons for hiring an additional domestic helper, along with the supporting documents needed for the visa application. The explanation letter should provide information on the household duties that the additional domestic helper will do and whether these are separate or shared tasks.


  • Suitable accommodation

Foreign domestic helpers are required to work at and live in the address stated in their employment contract, therefore employers should ensure that all domestic helpers are provided with suitable accommodation.


How is a co-worker position different from an independent position?

Domestic helpers, especially those with more experience, usually prefer to work independently. The co-worker position tends to be less desirable, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. The most common concerns are:


  • Accommodation and day-off arrangements: It is likely that co-workers will need to share a room and alternate their days-off. 


  • Getting along with the other domestic helper/s: Co-workers will be working and living closely together as a team, but they may not be effective communicators especially when it comes to problems that occur.


Employers hiring co-worker positions should think like a manager. It’s important that the helpers are treated as part of a team, rather than focusing only on their individual skills. Here are a few suggestions on what a successful co-worker team looks like:


  • Fair division of duties: You can divide the duties by specialization, frequency of tasks, or introduce a rotating schedule. If needed, make a list to confirm their individual job tasks and shared job tasks. Be open to questions so they know to consult you when they have concerns or clarification.


  • Clear chain of command: You can delegate leadership tasks to the more experienced helper, or you can also make sure they have very separate domains to work at in the household. Be consistent on how you give instructions and feedback, especially if you assign a supervisor role to 1 helper, as the other helpers may be left confused and overwhelmed if being given orders other than the employer. 


  • Healthy working relationship: Plan group meetings with the helpers to discuss household priorities. Encourage them to find ways on how they can work well together. Give them space to solve their problems independently while letting them know you will step in only when you think that you need to.


What should I look for in a co-worker candidate?

Co-workers will need to be team-players willing to share responsibilities and cooperate. When looking for suitable candidates, ask them about their teamwork abilities. It will be best if the personalities and qualities of the co-workers complement each other. For example, if the current helper is assertive, you may look for a candidate who is happy to take their direction. 


Have the working relationship in mind as you consider candidates. If possible, arrange the co-worker to meet the potential candidate during the interview or visit your home when the co-worker is there. Personality mismatches can become exhausting on a team, so you may also want to consider cultural similarities and differences before deciding on the job offer.


Who should be involved in the hiring process?

With the above in mind, we encourage employers to involve the domestic helper/s currently under their employment in the hiring process. Make sure to explain the duties that this additional helper will be doing, how tasks will be divided, and address preliminary concerns regarding accommodation and day-off arrangements. Ask the current helper for their preferences so that you can have these in mind when you are interviewing candidates. 


Usually, the current helper may have relatives or friends that they recommend to be their co-worker. It could be an advantage because they would have an existing relationship with each other. However, it can also lead to specific problems later as they can find it hard to define professional boundaries as co-workers.


How can I resolve conflicts in a co-worker team?

Conflicts are natural even for the best co-worker teams. As a manager, here are some quick tips for you to help them resolve it: 

  • Encourage the domestic helpers to be problem solvers 
  • Focus on behavior and events, not on personalities
  • Listen to both sides
  • Develop a plan to define priorities & hold accountability 
  • Get involved sooner than later
  • Be accommodating and reasonable

Last updated on September 20th, 2023

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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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