Source: Hong Kong Information Services
The Government announced that the measures to assist foreign domestic helpers and their employers to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended with immediate effect.
One such measure is the extension of the validity period of existing contracts with outgoing helpers.
For all helper contracts that will expire on or before December 31 this year, the Commissioner for Labour has given in-principle consent for extending the employment period for a maximum of six months.
If it cannot be arranged for a newly hired helper to come to Hong Kong within this six-month period and the employer needs to continue to employ the helper beyond the extended period, the employer should apply for contract renewal with the existing helper.
If the contract with the current helper has already been extended under the flexibility arrangement announced on June 28, the employer may also further extend the period of employment for a maximum period of an additional six months.
Another measure of concern is the deferral of return of the foreign domestic helpers to their place of origin.
Under the prevailing mechanism, a helper 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 for deferring return to the place of origin for not more than one year after the existing contract ends.
In view of the pandemic, the Government will further extend the relevant flexibility arrangement announced on December 30 last year.
If a helper cannot return to their place of origin within a one-year period, the helper may apply for a further extension of the limit of stay until the end of their contract such that the helper may return to the place of origin within that period.
The Government emphasised that the above flexibility arrangements must be mutually agreed by the employer and the helper, and employers should arrange for their helpers to return to the place of origin within the extended limit of stay.
Same as applications for contract renewal with the same employer, applications for further extension of the limit of stay until the end of a contract are acceptable within eight weeks prior to the expiry of the existing contract.
Visa applications should be submitted through the Immigration Department’s webpage. Enquiry about application status and notification of premature termination of employment contract can also be made via the website.
For enquiries on employment rights and benefits, contact the Labour Department at at 2157 9537 or by email.
For enquiries on foreign domestic helper visa applications, contact the Immigration Department at 2824 6111 or by email.