What to do if a domestic helper tests positive for Covid-19 while on holidays before returning to Hong Kong

While Covid-19 infections have slowed down and travel restrictions have been removed, domestic helpers travelling back home for holidays or home leave could still fall ill before returning to Hong Kong. We list below a few things for employers and domestic helpers to think about if that happens.

Is a domestic helper entitled to sick leave while outside of Hong Kong?

According to Hong Kong regulations, a domestic helper is entitled to paid sick leave if they have a medical certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner in Hong Kong. Therefore, if the helper falls sick while they are outside of Hong Kong, any sick leave entitlement will be under the discretion of the employer. In this situation, we encourage employers to show understanding and consideration towards the situation of the domestic helper and make flexible arrangements.

The employer and the domestic helper are encouraged to reach a mutually agreed arrangement which can include a mix of paid sick leave and unpaid leave. This will create trust and goodwill and help maintain a good employer-employee working relationship.

Read more about the paid sick leave entitlement here.

Does a domestic helper need to carry out any Covid-19 tests before returning to Hong Kong?

Currently, there are no testing requirements for domestic helpers before returning to Hong Kong. However, once the domestic helper has recovered, and in order to ensure the wellbeing of both the domestic helper and your family, we recommend for the helper to show two negative Rapid Antigen (RAT) test results before travelling to Hong Kong.

Does the employer have to pay for a domestic helper’s Covid-19-related medical expenses while outside of Hong Kong?

While the Standard Employment Contract states that employers must provide free medical treatment for domestic helpers, employers are not responsible to provide free medical treatment during the time a domestic helper leaves Hong Kong for personal reasons (eg. visiting home).

Can a domestic helper’s contract be terminated because of having contracted Covid-19?

According to the Hong Kong government, it is illegal to terminate a domestic helper because of contracting Covid-19, except in cases of summary dismissal due to the helper’s serious misconduct – irrespective of whether the helper is in Hong Kong or abroad. Read the government press release here.

In general, according to the Employment Ordinance in Hong Kong, it is illegal for an employer to terminate an employment contract while a domestic helper is paid sick leave, except in cases of summary dismissal due to the employee’s serious misconduct. Read more about the paid sick leave entitlement here.

What other important points should be noted in this situation?

  • Make sure to contact your agency immediately to update them on the situation. Your agency may be able to provide you guidance and support at this time.
  • Make sure to maintain regular communication in order to provide each other with the latest updates.
  • If the helper is in the Philippines, make sure that the helper’s Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is still valid. If the OEC has expired before the departure date the helper will need to re-apply for the OEC.

What happens if a domestic helper tests positive for Covid-19 in Hong Kong?

Read this article for more recommendations on what to do if a domestic helper tests positive for Covid-19 while in Hong Kong.



Last updated on August 23rd, 2023

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