By law, upon completion of the current contract and the commencement of the new contract, the domestic helper must return to her home country for a vacation leave (or home leave), for at least 7 days.
The difference between a vacation leave and an annual leave for domestic helpers
Both vacation leave and annual leave as part of holidays domestic helpers in Hong Kong are entitled to. The vacation leave should not be included in the domestic helper’s annual leave. As such, at the end of the contract, a helper should enjoy the remaining annual leave days she is entitled to, plus the vacation leave.
What if you need the domestic helper to start right after she gets a new visa
Normally, a domestic helper should take this vacation leave right after the contract end date.
If you are hiring a finished contract domestic helper and want her to start right after getting the new working visa, or if you are renewing your current helper’s contract, you can defer this leave within one year of the commencement date instead. For example, if the contract officially starts on 1 September 2018, the helper will have to take at least 7 days of vacation leave to her home country before 1 September 2019.
Do you need to pay the salary during the vacation leave?
Whether this leave is paid or unpaid vacation leave depends on the terms agreed upon in Clause 13 of the standard employment contract. For example, if you opted for unpaid vacation leave when signing the contract, you may change your mind and decide to give your domestic helper paid leave.
However, if you opted for paid vacation leave, you must follow this as stated in the contract and you cannot change your mind. The employment contract covers all aspects of the helper’s employment and it is important that employers are aware of their contractual obligations such as food allowance, and what to do with the helper when they are not in Hong Kong.
Who should pay for the flight ticket for domestic helper vacation leave
At the end of an employment contract, the current employer is responsible for paying all the domestic helper transportation costs to her home country, including flights and any other means to take the domestic helpers to their hometown.
If the domestic helper is deferring the vacation leave, we recommend you to give her an open-date flight ticket to fulfil your responsibility. Ask her to sign a receipt for your records.
If the domestic helper will return to Hong Kong after the vacation leave
Some domestic helpers will come back to Hong Kong for work after the vacation leave. In this case, the cost of the one-way trip from her home country to Hong Kong should be paid by the employer in the new contract.
In addition to this, all Filipino domestic helpers taking holidays in their home country are required to obtain an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) issued by the Philippine government.
What is an Overseas Employment Certificate?
The Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC, sometimes called an ‘exit permit’) makes sure the domestic helper has a valid contract and visa in the country of employment. Your domestic helper needs the OEC to exit the Philippines. Please note that the OEC is only valid for 60 days from the date of issuance and for a single exit from the Philippines.
How to get an OEC
To apply for an OEC, the domestic helper should first register for an account and make an appointment on the Balik-Manggagawa Online Processing System for processing.
If the domestic helper is a finished contract transferring to a new employer, she can choose to process the OEC at The Philippine Overseas Labor (POLO) Office in Hong Kong.
If the domestic helper is returning to the same employer and the same job place (i.e. contract renewal) after vacation leave, she is qualified for OEC Exemption. In this case, she is required to print the online system confirmation message and bring it with her.