In Hong Kong, the employment of foreign domestic helpers (FDH) is governed by strict regulations and guidelines. FDHs are required to sign an employment contract with their employers before they can start working. This contract outlines the terms and conditions of their employment, including their wages, working hours, days off, and other important details.
In this article, we will provide an overview of the FDH employment contract in Hong Kong and explain its key components to help both employers and employees better understand their rights and responsibilities.
- Sections of a Standard Employment Contract
- Sample Standard Employment Contract in Hong Kong
- Terms of Employment (Obligations of Employer and Employees)
- Amendments and Endorsements to the Contract
- Common Issues Encountered with Employment Contracts
- Tips on how to avoid employment contract disputes
- Where to Seek Legal Help with Employment Contract Issues in Hong Kong
- Video: DH Contract sa Hong Kong
- Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. What is an FDH Employment Contract?
- 2. What are the key elements of an FDH Employment Contract?
- 3. What are the legal requirements for an FDH Employment Contract in Hong Kong?
- 4. Can an FDH Employment Contract be amended or endorsed?
- 5. What are the common issues encountered with FDH Employment Contracts?
- 6. What should I do if I have a dispute with my employer over my FDH Employment Contract?
- 7. What are my obligations as an FDH under the Employment Contract?
- 8. What are my employer’s obligations under the Employment Contract?
- Final Thoughts
The Standard Employment Contract (SEC) in Hong Kong is a legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee that sets out the terms and conditions of their employment relationship. The contract covers a range of matters, including job duties, working hours, remuneration, leave entitlements, and termination provisions. It is a requirement for all employers in Hong Kong to use the SEC for their local employees. The contract is standardized and regularly updated by the Labour Department to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. It is important for both employers and employees to understand the terms of the SEC before signing to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes later on.
Benefits of the Standard Employment Contract in Hong Kong
- Clarity: The standard employment contract provides a clear understanding of the expectations and obligations of both the employer and employee. This can help avoid misunderstandings and disputes in the future.
- Protection: The contract includes clauses that protect the employer’s interests, such as a probationary period, termination clauses, and confidentiality clauses. This provides peace of mind and legal protection for the employer.
- Compliance: The standard employment contract is in line with Hong Kong’s labor laws, ensuring that employers comply with legal requirements.
For Domestic Helpers:
- Clarity: The contract outlines the domestic helper’s duties, hours of work, and compensation, providing a clear understanding of what is expected of them. This can help avoid misunderstandings and disputes with their employer.
- Protection: The contract includes clauses that protect the domestic helper’s interests, such as rest days, sick leave, and termination clauses. This provides peace of mind and legal protection for the domestic helper.
- Transparency: The standard employment contract includes information on the domestic helper’s rights and entitlements, ensuring that they are aware of their legal rights and are not taken advantage of by their employer.
Both employers and domestic helpers should know the contents of the Standard Employment Contract in Hong Kong for several reasons.
For employers, understanding the terms and conditions of the contract can help them avoid potential legal issues and penalties. It can also help them establish clear expectations with their domestic helpers and ensure that both parties are on the same page regarding job responsibilities, working hours, and compensation.
For domestic helpers, knowing the contents of the contract can protect their rights and prevent exploitation. It can help them negotiate better terms and conditions and hold their employers accountable if the terms of the contract are violated.
A clear understanding of the Standard Employment Contract can help promote fair and respectful employment relationships between employers and domestic helpers in Hong Kong.
Sections of a Standard Employment Contract
A Standard Employment Contract typically consists of several sections, which outline the terms and conditions of the employment agreement.
- Personal Details: This section typically includes the name and address of the employer and employee, as well as their identification and contact details.
- Job Title and Duties: This section outlines the employee’s job title and the duties they are expected to perform. It also includes information on the employee’s work hours and schedule.
- Remuneration: This section outlines the employee’s salary and any additional benefits they are entitled to, such as housing or transportation allowances.
- Leave: This section outlines the employee’s entitlement to annual leave, sick leave, and other types of leave.
- Termination: This section outlines the circumstances under which the employment agreement may be terminated by either party, as well as the notice period required.
- Miscellaneous: This section may include additional terms and conditions, such as confidentiality agreements, non-compete clauses, or other specific requirements related to the nature of the job.
Sample Standard Employment Contract in Hong Kong
If you’re an aspiring OFW and have never worked abroad, here’s what a standard employment contract looks like. This sample is based on a contract between an employer and an employee who will be working in Hong Kong.
You can get this sample copy by clicking this link and downloading a copy of the file, which you may use as a reference. You can also use this sample as a template to create your own employment contract by filling in the blanks with your personal details.
Terms of Employment (Obligations of Employer and Employees)
The employer and the helper have different obligations under the FDH employment contract in Hong Kong. As an employer or a helper, it is important to understand these obligations to ensure a smooth and fair working relationship.
A. Employer Obligations
- Providing the required documents: The employer is responsible for providing the necessary documents for the helper to obtain a visa and work permit, including an employment contract, an offer letter, and a sponsorship form.
- Paying the salary and benefits: The employer is obligated to pay the helper’s salary and benefits as specified in the contract, including payment for overtime, rest days, and statutory holidays.
- Providing a safe working environment: The employer must ensure that the working environment is safe and healthy for the helper. This includes providing proper equipment, training, and protective gear, as well as maintaining a clean and hygienic working space.
- Providing food and accommodation: The employer is responsible for providing the helper with suitable accommodation and food or a food allowance as specified in the contract. The accommodation must meet basic standards of cleanliness, privacy, and safety.
B. Helper Obligations
- Performing the duties specified in the contract: The helper must perform the duties specified in the contract with reasonable care and diligence. The duties may include cleaning, cooking, caring for children or the elderly, or other household tasks.
- Maintaining a good relationship with the employer: The helper must maintain a good working relationship with the employer and other members of the household. This includes treating them with respect, following their instructions, and communicating any concerns in a polite and professional manner.
- Adhering to the terms and conditions of the contract: The helper must adhere to the terms and conditions of the contract, including working hours, rest days, and other requirements. Failure to comply with these terms may result in disciplinary action or termination of the contract.
Amendments and Endorsements to the Contract
An endorsement is a written agreement between the employer and the helper that adds or changes the terms of the original contract. It is a way for both parties to modify the agreement to better reflect their needs and preferences.
Process of Endorsement:
- Agreement: Before an endorsement can be made, both the employer and the helper must agree to the changes being made to the contract. This agreement should be made in writing and signed by both parties.
- Documentation: The endorsement must be documented in writing and signed by both the employer and the helper. The document should clearly state the terms and conditions of the endorsement and how it changes the original contract.
- Submission: The endorsed contract should be submitted to the relevant government agency within seven days of the changes being made.
Legal Requirements for Endorsement:
- Compliance with the Employment Ordinance: All endorsements to the contract must comply with the requirements of the Employment Ordinance. This includes ensuring that the terms and conditions of the contract comply with the minimum standards set out in the Ordinance.
- Termination of the Contract: Endorsement cannot be used to circumvent the termination requirements of the Employment Ordinance. Any endorsement that attempts to do so will be considered invalid.
- Written Agreement: The endorsement must be made in writing and signed by both parties. Any verbal agreement will not be legally binding.
- Submission of Documents: The endorsed contract should be submitted to the relevant government agency within seven days of the changes being made. Failure to do so may result in penalties for both the employer and the helper.
- Consent of the Helper: The helper must consent to the endorsement in writing. This ensures that the helper is fully aware of the changes being made to the contract and agrees to them.
- Legal Advice: Employers and helpers should seek legal advice before making any endorsement to the contract. This can help to ensure that the endorsement is legally valid and does not contravene any of the requirements of the Employment Ordinance.
Common Issues Encountered with Employment Contracts
Employment contracts are essential documents that define the terms and conditions of the employment relationship between the employer and the employee. However, even with the best intentions, issues can arise with employment contracts. Here are some common issues that are encountered with employment contracts and how to deal with them:
1. Ambiguity in the contract language
Ambiguity in contract language can lead to confusion, misinterpretation, and disputes.
For OFWs, ambiguity in the contract language can pose a significant risk as it may lead to misunderstandings and disagreements with their employer.
For instance, if a contract states that the OFW is entitled to “annual leave,” but does not specify the number of days, the employer and the OFW may have different interpretations of what constitutes as annual leave. This can lead to disputes between the two parties.
To avoid this, OFWs should ensure that their contracts are written in clear and concise language. They can seek legal advice to help them understand any ambiguous clauses in the contract and ask their employer to clarify any unclear terms.
Additionally, they should always keep a copy of their contract and any amendments made to it for future reference in case of any disputes.
2. Unenforceable clauses
Some clauses in the contract may be unenforceable under the law. For example, a clause that waives an employee’s right to file a complaint or lawsuit may be unenforceable. Employers should ensure that all clauses in the contract are legal and enforceable.
Unenforceable clauses in the employment contract can be problematic as they may undermine their legal protections and employment rights. In some cases, employers may include clauses that are illegal or unenforceable under local laws, either intentionally or unintentionally.
One common example is a clause that waives the OFW’s right to file a complaint or lawsuit against the employer. This is typically illegal under labor laws in most countries, including the Philippines, and such clauses are unenforceable.
Similarly, clauses that limit the OFW’s access to legal remedies or dispute resolution mechanisms may also be unenforceable if they violate local labor laws.
Changes in job duties:
Sometimes, an employee’s job duties may change after they have signed the contract. In such cases, it is important to amend the contract to reflect the new job duties. This will help avoid confusion and disputes in the future.
For OFWs, changes in job duties may also occur, especially when they have been working for their employers for a long time. If the employer asks the OFW to perform tasks that are not included in the original contract, it is important for both parties to agree on a written amendment to the contract.
This way, the OFW will have a clear understanding of their new job responsibilities and avoid any misunderstandings with their employer.
For example, if an OFW was hired to do household chores and take care of children, but the employer now wants them to also handle some administrative tasks for their small business, the OFW should request for an amendment to their contract that specifically outlines these new responsibilities.
This will help ensure that the OFW is compensated fairly and that their job expectations are clear.
Wage and benefits disputes
Wage and benefits disputes may arise if there are discrepancies in the agreed salary and the actual amount received, or if the employer fails to provide the promised benefits such as food and accommodation. It is important for OFWs to carefully review their employment contract and ensure that their wage and benefit entitlements are clearly stated.
For example, an OFW may have agreed to a monthly salary of HKD 4,500 with free accommodation and meals. However, upon arrival in Hong Kong, the employer only provides a salary of HKD 3,500 and requires the OFW to pay for their own meals.
In this case, the OFW can refer to their employment contract and bring up the discrepancy to the employer or seek legal advice.
If an employee is terminated, disputes can arise if the terms of the contract regarding termination are unclear. The contract should clearly outline the grounds for termination and the notice period required.
Termination disputes can arise if OFWs are terminated without clear grounds or proper notice. This can happen if the terms of their employment contract regarding termination are unclear or ambiguous. For example, if the contract only states “termination may occur for cause” without clearly defining what constitutes “cause,” then a dispute may arise if the employer terminates the OFW without proper cause.
Similarly, if the contract does not specify the required notice period for termination, the OFW may be left without enough time to make arrangements for their return to their home country or find new employment in Hong Kong. This can also lead to disputes between the OFW and the employer.
Non-compete clauses are common in employment contracts but can be a source of dispute if they are too broad or unreasonable. Employers should ensure that such clauses are reasonable and necessary to protect the company’s legitimate business interests.
For OFWs, non-compete clauses may be included in their employment contracts to prevent them from working for a competing company in the same industry after their contract ends.
However, it is important to note that non-compete clauses must be reasonable and necessary to protect the employer’s business interests. If the clause is too broad or unreasonable, it can lead to disputes and legal issues.
For example, an OFW working as a cook for a restaurant in Hong Kong may have a non-compete clause in their contract that prohibits them from working for any other restaurant within a 10-kilometer radius for six months after their contract ends.
If the OFW decides to work for a restaurant outside of the prohibited radius, the non-compete clause would not be violated. However, if the clause prohibited them from working for any restaurant in the city for a year, it may be considered too broad and may not hold up in court if challenged.
Confidentiality and non-disclosure disputes
Confidentiality and non-disclosure clauses can be a source of dispute if they are not clearly defined. Employers should ensure that such clauses are clear and specific about what information is considered confidential and what is not.
For OFWs, confidentiality and non-disclosure disputes can arise if they are asked to handle confidential information about the employer’s business or personal affairs. This can include financial records, trade secrets, and personal information.
To avoid disputes, OFWs should make sure to read and fully understand the confidentiality and non-disclosure clauses in their employment contract.
They should ask their employer to clarify any unclear terms and to provide specific examples of what information is considered confidential.
For example, if an OFW is working as a personal assistant for a wealthy family in Hong Kong, they may be required to handle confidential financial information such as bank statements, investment portfolios, and tax records.
The confidentiality and non-disclosure clause in their employment contract should clearly state what information is considered confidential and how it should be handled.
Employment contracts can be complex documents, and it is important to understand their terms and implications.
Employers should ensure that contracts are drafted with clarity and in accordance with the law, and employees should carefully read and understand the terms before signing. If any issues arise, seeking legal advice is always recommended.
Tips on how to avoid employment contract disputes
Employment contract disputes can be costly and time-consuming for both employers and employees in Hong Kong. Here are some tips to help you avoid these disputes:
- Clearly define the terms of the contract: Ensure that the employment contract is clear and comprehensive, and that both parties understand the terms and conditions. It should include details such as job responsibilities, working hours, remuneration, and termination provisions.
- Comply with Hong Kong Employment Law: Employers should ensure that their employment contracts are in compliance with Hong Kong’s Employment Ordinance. The ordinance sets out the minimum requirements for employment contracts and covers areas such as wages, working hours, and leave entitlements.
- Keep accurate employment records: Both employers and employees should keep accurate employment records, including pay slips, attendance records, and any changes to the employment contract. These records will be important evidence in the event of any disputes.
- Communicate regularly: Employers should communicate regularly with their employees to ensure that they are aware of any changes to their job duties, working hours, or any other important matters. This will help to prevent misunderstandings and disputes from arising.
- Address issues promptly: Employers should address any issues or concerns raised by employees promptly and in a professional manner. This will help to prevent minor issues from escalating into major disputes.
- Seek legal advice when necessary: If you are unsure about any aspect of the employment contract or if a dispute arises, seek legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and obligations and can assist you in resolving any disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Where to Seek Legal Help with Employment Contract Issues in Hong Kong
If you encounter issues with your employment contract, it is important to seek legal help to ensure your rights are protected. Here are some options for seeking legal assistance:
- Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong – The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong has a Legal Assistance Fund which provides free legal assistance to OFWs in Hong Kong. You can contact their Legal Assistance Desk at (+852) 2823-8500 / 1 or email them at email@example.com.
- Hong Kong Labour Department – The Hong Kong Labour Department provides assistance to employees in case of employment disputes. They can provide guidance on how to resolve issues with your employer and help mediate negotiations. You can contact their Employment Relations Division at +852 2717 1771 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions – The Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU) is a non-governmental organization that advocates for the rights of domestic workers in Hong Kong. They provide legal assistance and advice to domestic workers who encounter employment issues. You can contact them at +852 6851 2879 or email them at email@example.com.
Video: DH Contract sa Hong Kong
Your employment contract is crucial in outlining your rights and responsibilities as an employee. To help you navigate this important document, here is a two-part video series that will guide you through the key aspects of your contract.
This video series will cover the definition, content, and legal requirements of your employment contract. This will also help you understand the different sections of your contract, such as working hours, salary, benefits, and termination clauses.
By the end of these videos, you will have a better understanding of your contract and be equipped with the knowledge and tools to ensure that it is fair and legal, and that your rights are protected. Be sure to watch both videos until the end, as they will be your guide to a better understanding of your employment contract.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is an FDH Employment Contract?
An FDH Employment Contract is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of employment for a foreign domestic helper (FDH) in Hong Kong.
2. What are the key elements of an FDH Employment Contract?
The key elements of an FDH Employment Contract include the FDH’s duties and responsibilities, working hours, salary and benefits, accommodation and food arrangements, and termination clauses.
3. What are the legal requirements for an FDH Employment Contract in Hong Kong?
An FDH Employment Contract must comply with the relevant provisions of the Employment Ordinance and must be written in either English or Chinese. The contract must also be signed by both the employer and the FDH.
4. Can an FDH Employment Contract be amended or endorsed?
Yes, an FDH Employment Contract can be amended or endorsed by way of written agreement between the employer and the FDH. Any amendments or endorsements must comply with the relevant provisions of the Employment Ordinance.
5. What are the common issues encountered with FDH Employment Contracts?
Common issues encountered with FDH Employment Contracts include disputes over working hours, salary and benefits, accommodation and food arrangements, and termination clauses.
6. What should I do if I have a dispute with my employer over my FDH Employment Contract?
If you have a dispute with your employer over your FDH Employment Contract, you should seek legal advice and consider lodging a complaint with the Labour Department.
7. What are my obligations as an FDH under the Employment Contract?
As an FDH, your obligations under the Employment Contract include performing the duties specified in the contract, maintaining a good relationship with your employer, and adhering to the terms and conditions of the contract.
8. What are my employer’s obligations under the Employment Contract?
As your employer, their obligations under the Employment Contract include providing the required documents, paying the salary and benefits, providing a safe working environment, and providing food and accommodation.
In conclusion, the FDH employment contract is a critical document that serves as a foundation for the working relationship between employers and employees in Hong Kong. It is important for both parties to understand their obligations and duties under the contract to avoid any disputes or misunderstandings. By providing an overview of the contract’s key components, we hope to assist both employers and FDHs in navigating the contract and ensuring that it is fair and legally binding.