Guide to Terminating a Domestic Helper

Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary to terminate your domestic helper’s contract. Be sure to follow the necessary steps if this is the case.


Consider if you really want to terminate your domestic helper’s contract

Dismissing your domestic helper will have an impact on her career prospects and on the family she is supporting back home. If you are relocating or suddenly no longer have the financial means, or if you are moving into a smaller apartment, you may unfortunately have no other option. But if you are terminating her contract for other reasons, the decision should not be taken lightly and you should consider:

  • Have you spoken with your domestic helper about the issues before? If you have not, she may not be aware that you are unhappy with her.
  • Could we do anything to change the situation? If she is not very good at cooking, but great at her other duties, she may improve by attending some cooking workshops.
  • How much longer is her contract valid for? If it is just another 2 or 3 months and the situation is not unbearable, you m18ay consider to keep her until she finishes her contract. This also gives both you and her you enough time to find a suitable replacement.
  • How angry are you? When you are upset, you can make decisions that you may later regret. Discuss the situation with your partner and see if they think the same. You may even want to talk to your children because they may be very attached to the domestic helper.


Things you need to do when terminating a domestic helper’s contract

If you are sure about your decision to let your domestic helper go, there are a few things you will need to do.

Give your domestic helper a termination letter

You should draw up a domestic helper termination letter where you state the effective date of the notice, the helper’s last working day and the reason(s). If you are terminating her contract because you are relocating, let her know as far in advance as possible so that she has time to find a suitable new employer. A release letter for your domestic helper with this specific reason will help her shorten the time on finding a new employer.

Regardless of the reasons why you terminate your domestic helper’s contract, you will have to tell her when she is expected to leave. You will have to give her at least one month’s notice or pay her wages in lieu of notice if you want her to stop working immediately. In case of dispute, you can ask a third-party to be present when both of you sign the termination letter. Keep one copy yourself and one copy for the helper.


Settle payments

In addition to this, remember to settle all outstanding payments and ask the helper to sign receipts for records. Termination payments usually include:

  • Outstanding wages. If there are any outstanding wages due or if payment in lieu of notice is necessary, settle this as soon as possible.
  • Severance payment or long service payment if applicable.
  • Outstanding annual leave. A domestic helper is entitled to annual leave after working for a period of 12 months. When you terminate your domestic helper’s contract you should pay her in lieu of any annual leave not yet taken. A domestic helper who has worked more than three, but less than 12 months is entitled to a pro-rata annual leave pay.
  • All the other sums as stated in the employment contract such as a flight ticket back home, food and travelling allowance.


Inform Hong Kong Immigration Department

You and your domestic helper both will have to inform the Immigration Department of any changes in employment. This has to be done within 7 days of the contract termination date. You can notify the Immigration of the changes by online notification or by submitting the termination notification form.

If you are terminating her contract because of relocation, for financial reasons or because of the death of the family member she is hired to take care of, make sure you specify the reason on the release letter to your domestic helper and the termination notification to the Immigration. The domestic helper’s case will then be handled as a “finished contract” after she passes an interview arranged by the Immigration for this termination.


Give your domestic helper a reference letter

Your domestic helper is more likely to find a new employer without having to pay crazy fees while she is still in Hong Kong. If you and your domestic helper part on happy terms, you can write her a reference letter stating at least the dates of employment. If your domestic helper has been great, you can write her a more personal letter. Many future employers like to hear what you thought were her strong points and if she also has any major weak points. If you don’t mind being contacted, you can also leave your contact information. Alternatively, you can leave a reference directly on the helper’s HelperChoice file if she has one.