Hiring a part time helper in Hong Kong is common. Having someone help you with the myriad of chores that come with everyday life can be a huge blessing, but there’s a lot to know.
It might be customary for you and your family to have a part-time helper, or perhaps this is the first time you’ve needed to bring in help. Either way, you can expect the rules for a part-time helper in Hong Kong to be different from the last place you lived.
To get you in the loop and ready to take on a helper, we’re going to guide you through:
- The legal issues you need to know about when hiring a part time helper in Hong Kong
- How to find a suitable helper for your home and family
- Hints and tips for interviewing prospective home help
- Working with a helper once you’ve hired them
- Where to look for the perfect helper in Hong Kong
- How much a part-time helper in Hong Kong is going to cost you
The process can be smooth and hassle-free, so you can get on with making the most of your time in the city.
Legalities of hiring a part time helper in Hong Kong
There are two sets of rules for hiring a helper in Hong Kong; part-time and full-time workers are regulated differently. Anyone who’s found breaking the rules can get prosecuted, charged hefty fines, and even banned from hiring a helper in the future.
Here’s the most pertinent information you need about the laws in Hong Kong for taking on a helper:
- You can’t hire a foreign domestic helper part-time
- A foreign domestic helper can only work for the employer named on their visa and must live in their employer’s house.
- Foreign helpers must be given free healthcare and food or a food allowance.
- Your salary must be more than $15,000 per month to hire a foreign helper.
- The contract must be for two years.
In contrast, when you hire a part-time helper, you’ll take on a Hong Konger who will come into your home at the times agreed, usually for a few hours a week. You can hire your help through an agency or directly – we’ll go through agency hiring further down.
Hiring a local domestic helper directly means that you’ll need to take out Employees’ Compensation Insurance, and you’ll need to report their income to the Hong Kong Inland Revenue Department.
Should I hire a full-time or part-time domestic helper?
Deciding which one to go might be tricky, but key considerations are:
- Do you have children or elders requiring a lot of help? If so, full-time help can be invaluable
- Are you comfortable signing a 2-year contract with a full-time helper, or is part-time assistance sufficient?
- Do you want someone living with you or would you rather someone drop in occasionally?
Obviously, the cost of a part-time helper in HK will be lower. Look at the amount of work that needs doing in your house, can it be done part-time?
Another bonus of a local helper coming in is that you’ll have the chance to learn about life in the city from their perspective.
How do I choose a good part time helper in Hong Kong?
Inviting a new person into your home can be daunting. You’re asking someone in to see your sink filled with last night’s dishes, clear your hair out the shower drain, and deal with your kids’ tantrums.
It’s normal to feel exposed, even when you’ve had help in other homes, so you need to choose the right person for the job of a helper in Hong Kong.
Define what you require
Have a good think about the tasks you want your helper to complete for you. Some of the areas you can hire someone to cover include:
- Elderly care
Next, think about the specific tasks you want to be done and what tasks don’t need to be done. Maybe you want to be the one to help with homework, or perhaps you want to be the one to put your clothes into your neatly arranged closet. Know what you’ll be asking of your help.
Check the credibility of the agency
Many agencies can help you find a maid in Hong Kong or any other help. Be cautious about any agency that offers to flout any of the rules we noted above – your part-time helper can only be a local.
Take recommendations from people you know and search on review sites to cross-check the agency you’re considering is legit.
Check the background of the helper
Although familiar in some parts of the world, it’s not normal to do a criminal record check on a maid that you’re hiring directly. Some agencies point out that they check the background of their employers, though.
What’s really important is to check any potential employee’s references. Don’t be afraid to call or email the contacts that a candidate gives you and double-check details such as:
- Their responsibilities match what their resume says.
- The quality of their work
- If the dates of employment match what you’ve been told
- Why they stopped working for that person
This is a reliable way to check who you’re bringing into your house every week. Agencies should have testimonials along these lines, and websites like Hellotoby have lots of reviews that you can check through.
Check the medical and physical fitness of the domestic helper
Hiring through an agency, you can expect that anyone you work with will have already had a health screening. It’s definitely something you need to confirm – issues such as Hepatitis C are more common in this part of the world than in the West.
Hiring direct, you can pay for a potential candidate’s health screening, as long as they’re happy to. Complete screening packages cost around $1,000 – a cost worth factoring when deciding between using an agency or hiring direct.
Meet the helper
Your intuition will be your most extensive guide when deciding who to hire as your part-time helper in Hong Kong. You can ask pertinent questions about their experience and check that you’re going to communicate clearly with each other.
Having a meeting or two will give you a chance to understand whether you click on a personal level too. This person might hear you argue with your partner, put your underwear through the wash, and clean your child’s bloody knee. You need to know they’re friendly, kind, and trustworthy.
Don’t be afraid to go with your gut. If you’ve ever hired someone in your job, you’ll know that the perfect candidate on paper can be an HR nightmare. Having a sit-down chat will let you know you’re making the right choice.
Interview tips for hiring a part time helper in Hong Kong
For lots of people, interviewing someone for any job can be daunting. But try these tips when interviewing your HK part time helper:
- Block off enough time – this isn’t a conversation you want to be rushing.
- Plan your questions – have a list of information you want to find out; this will help keep the interview on track.
- Have your family around – even if there isn’t childcare involved in the role, your helper needs to be able to interact well with your kids and partner.
- Discuss expectations – describe in detail the jobs you’ll need doing so the candidate knows what will be expected of them.
- Ask “what if” questions – “what would you do if you lost your key?” and other scenarios let you assess initiative, problem-solving, and overall attitude to being responsible.
- Talk about their family – how a person talks about the kids and older people in their family will tell you a lot about how they’ll treat yours.
Take notes so you can compare your interviewees and ask your family about their impressions too. Everyone will be working with this person, and your mother might pick up on a vibe you didn’t, for example.
How do you interview for the role of a part-time helper?
This is by no means exhaustive, but here are ten interview questions to give you inspiration for what to ask when interviewing your helper:
- Do you have any qualifications, for example, in first aid or anything else?
- What food do you enjoy cooking, and what food do you like learning about?
- What job did you do for your last employer?
- Why are you looking for a new job in Hong Kong?
- Tell me about your family.
- What would you do if my father had a slip whilst you were cleaning the kitchen?
- What would you do if my child if spilled paint all over the sofa?
- What languages can you speak?
- What is your experience with reading books to kids or helping kids read or with their homework?
- What salary are you expecting from the job?
What are the duties and responsibilities of a domestic part time helper?
Defining the tasks of your helper is vital. Understand what type of jobs you will need help with before you even start the process of searching for someone to interview.
You’re free to set the parameters of your helper, as long as you don’t ask them to break the law, of course! Remember that the more skills you expect someone to have, the more you should be paying them.
Cleaning, cooking, looking after children, caring for elderly family, doing the shopping and laundry are just a selection of things you can ask to be done. Have a clear list of tasks that you want complete.
Be reasonable with what can be achieved in the time you’re paying for; they’re a helper, not a superhero.
Successfully managing a part time helper in Hong Kong
Not been promoted to management yet? You’re about to give yourself a title boost, then. Having a helper means you have an employee, and they need direction and leadership to be successful.
Even if you are a successful leader in your day job, remember that your maid or nanny isn’t a corporate hack. Be patient with your new helper, and don’t expect them to know exactly how you like your socks folded in the first week.
At the same time, have a schedule and expectations. You are paying someone to work, after all.
Know what your policy is on mobile phones, accessing your WiFi, how to tell you they’ll be late – all these things could irk you in the future if you don’t set out the rules from the off.
At work, you’ll be used to your regular one-to-one meetings with your boss. Treat your helper the same and have a catch up each month. It gives you time to check if they’re struggling with anything, and you can pick up on any issues with their work, too.
Be on top of paperwork. A helper needs to get their salary on time and make sure your helper insurance is up to date. These little details will make working with your helper infinitely easier.
Where can I hire a part-time helper in HK?
Finding a helper in Hong Kong is pretty easy since so many people are looking for staff. A standard route to finding a helper is through word of mouth. People come and go often in the city so you can take on their helper quickly enough.
If there’s no one coming available from your contacts soon, there are portals and agencies you can use.
Smartliving government portal
The government has a free referral service to put you in touch with people looking for a job as a part-time helper in Hong Kong. The process is pretty streamlined:
- Register your details on the Smartliving system
- You’ll be given a list of helpers that match your requirements.
- You can browse through registered helpers.
- The website will connect you with potential helpers by exchanging phone numbers.
On the site, you can find people to help around the home, take care of children and old folks, and even find a massage therapist.
The site checks that helpers have any required qualifications before they can sign up, taking one more minor task off your shoulders.
You can book a cleaner, nanny, or cook to come and help in your home through the app or website. You can reserve and pay for one or multiple sessions with Hellotoby, with decreasing per session costs the more you buy.
Each session lasts for around three hours, and you input what you need from the session each time you book. It’s possible to request the same helper each time, or a new one if you need. You can leave a review of the people who come out to you and check their previous reviews, too.
The range of services is huge, with Japanese lessons for your kids, personal trainers, or a trained and vetted helper you need, you can find it with this company. Your service comes with a satisfaction guarantee, but you do need to get your own employees’ insurance.
This website has a team of people who can do a range of household tasks. The services offered by Lazy include:
- Home cleaning
- Air conditioning cleaning
- Formaldehyde (VOC) removal
- Pest control
You choose what service you need and what time you need the helper to arrive. The company also offers subscription plans to make your costs cheaper and to guarantee the same helper each time.
Prestige Home Services Agency
You can buy packages of three-hour visits from Prestige Home Services Agency as well as weekly or monthly cleans for your home. All their staff speak English and are assured of having experience, which should put your mind at rest some.
Each helper with Prestige is insured for employee liability, so that cost is alleviated from you, plus they ensure their workers for damages up to $200. You can book your helper right up to 6.30 pm in case you want to be home before they leave.
Although they serve all of Hong Kong, you will need to pay towards your helper’s transport costs, which will depend on where in the city you are.
How much does a helper cost in Hong Kong?
Although the minimum hourly wage is less than $38 per hour in Hong Kong, part-time helpers earn much more than that. Prices vary, and packages through agencies are done as a bulk order rather than hourly.
Direct hiring a helper will mean you need to negotiate the salary. A general guide for hourly pay is $65-$120 per hour, depending on skills, experience, and the duties you give them.
We’re all for being savvy and looking after the purse strings, but we also encourage you to be fair with your staff. It’s not a race to the bottom with salaries, and it’s important that you value the work your helper does and their cost of living.
What is severance pay for a domestic helper in HK?
The normal Hong Kong labor laws will cover your helper. This includes the requirement to pay severance if your helper has been with you for two years or more.
Severance pay needs to be given when you let your helper go due to redundancy or if you choose not to renew the contract you have with them. Since different agencies work on different terms, you should double-check your obligations regarding this payment with your agency.
If you have to make a severance payment, the calculation you need to use is:
|Monthly paid helper||⅔ of last monthly wage x reckonable years of service|
|Daily paid helper||Any 18 days’ pay from the last 30 that the helper chooses x reckonable years of service|
There are some facets that come with this that you can find on the Labour Department’s website.
The same calculations are used for long service awards, which you need to pay after your helper has been with you for five years.
You need to know quite a bit of information when you’re hiring a helper in Hong Kong. This guide should have demystified everything for you, but if there are still questions you want to ask, get in touch, and we’ll help you out.
- Medical insurance in Hong Kong – 4 things you need to know
- Our favorite shore for buying crisp white linen