Government reminds foreign domestic helpers and employers that flexibility arrangements to cope with COVID-19 pandemic will be discontinued on May 1
The Government today (March 10) reminded foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and their employers that the flexibility arrangements to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic will be discontinued on May 1. Employers and FDHs should discuss matters relating to employment, contract renewals or the return to FDHs' places of origin as soon as possible to avoid breaching the relevant requirements.
Taking into account the development of the pandemic and the gradual relaxation of inbound control measures, the Government announced on December 19, 2022, the discontinuation of the flexibility arrangements on May 1(www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202212/19/P2022121900349.htm). Details are set out below:
Extension of validity period of existing contracts
For all FDH contracts expiring on or before April 30, employers may apply for extending the validity period of the existing contracts with their outgoing FDHs. For such contracts, the Commissioner for Labour has given in-principle consent for extending the employment period stated in Clause 2 of the Standard Employment Contract (SEC) for a maximum period of six months, on the basis that such variation is mutually agreed upon by both the employers and FDHs concerned. However, applications for further extension of contracts which have already been extended under the previously announced flexibility arrangements will not be considered. If an employer needs to continue to employ his/her FDH beyond the six-month extended period, the employer should consider applying for a contract renewal with the existing FDH. All such applications should reach the Immigration Department (ImmD) on or before the contract expiry dates. Late submissions will not be accepted.
The flexibility arrangements on extending the validity period of existing contracts for six months is not applicable to FDH contracts expiring on or after May 1. These employers may still, according to Clause 15(a) of the SEC, vary Clause 2 of the SEC to extend the period of employment by not more than one month by mutual agreement between the employers and the FDHs, and with approval from the Director of Immigration.
Deferral of return to place of origin
Under normal circumstances, an FDH on a renewed contract with the same employer, or due to start a new contract with a new employer, upon the expiry of an existing contract, may apply to the ImmD for deferring his/her return to the place of origin for not more than one year after the existing contract ends, subject to the agreement of his/her current employer or new employer.
If the aforementioned one-year period expires on or before April 30, the FDH may submit an application to the ImmD within eight weeks prior to the expiry of the existing limit of stay to further extend the limit of stay until the end of his/her contract. All such applications should reach the ImmD on or before April 30. Late submissions will not be accepted. The Government reminds employers and FDHs that the above flexibility arrangements must be mutually agreed between them, and that the requirement of FDHs returning to their places of origin remains in force. Employers should arrange for their FDHs to return to their place of origin within the extended limit of stay.
If the aforementioned one-year period expires on or after May 1, the period for them to return to the place of origin will not be further extended. Employers should arrange for their FDHs to return to their places of origin within the current limit of stay and then return to Hong Kong within the validity of the entry visa issued to the FDHs for completion of the contract.
The Government urges employers and their FDHs to discuss matters relating to employment, contract renewals or the return to FDHs' places of origin as soon as possible. They should also be mindful of the limit of stay and the passport validity of the FDHs and arrange applications for visas and replacement of passports in advance.
For enquiries on FDH visa applications, please contact the ImmD by calling the enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by sending an email firstname.lastname@example.org. For enquiries on employment rights and benefits of FDHs, please contact the Labour Department (LD) at the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by 1823) or by email to email@example.com. The dedicated FDH portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk) set up by the LD also provides information and useful links relating to the employment of FDHs.
Ends/Friday, March 10, 2023