Flexibility arrangements to assist foreign domestic helpers and employers cope with COVID-19 pandemic will be discontinued on May 1, 2023
A Government spokesman said, "In order to assist FDHs and their employers to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has since early 2020 implemented a series of facilitation measures for FDHs and their employers, including the flexibility arrangements of allowing an extension of the validity period of existing employment contracts and a deferral of FDHs' return to their places of origin. The Government has closely monitored the development of the pandemic to review and adjust the measures. Taking into account that flights between Hong Kong and major FDH-sending countries have gradually resumed after the lifting of the place-specific and route-specific flight suspension mechanisms on April 1 and July 7 respectively this year, the lifting of the compulsory quarantine requirement on arrival in Hong Kong with effect from September 26, as well as the gradual relaxation of inbound control measures, the Government has reviewed the situation and decided to discontinue the abovementioned flexibility arrangements from May 1, 2023 onwards. To allow sufficient time for FDHs and their employers to make corresponding arrangements, the following flexibility arrangements announced today will be implemented until April 30, 2023. The Government reminds employers and FDHs to discuss matters relating to employment, contract renewals or the return to FDHs' places of origin as soon as possible to avoid breaching the relevant requirements."
The flexibility arrangements are set out below:
Extension of validity period of existing contracts
For all FDH contracts expiring on or before April 30, 2023, employers may apply for extending the validity period of the existing contracts with their outgoing FDHs. For such contracts, the Commissioner for Labour has given in-principle consent for extending the employment period stated in Clause 2 of the Standard Employment Contract for a maximum period of six months, on the basis that such variation is mutually agreed upon by both the employers and FDHs concerned. However, applications for further extension of contracts which have already been extended under the previously announced flexibility arrangements will not be considered. If an employer needs to continue to employ his/her FDH beyond the six-month extended period, the employer should consider applying for a contract renewal with the existing FDH. All applications should reach the Immigration Department (ImmD) on or before April 30, 2023. Late submission will not be accepted.
Deferral of return to place of origin
Under normal circumstances, an FDH 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 to the ImmD for deferring his/her return to the place of origin for not more than one year after the existing contract ends, subject to the agreement of his/her current employer or new employer. Under the relevant flexibility arrangement, if an FDH is unable to return to his/her place of origin within the aforementioned one-year period, he/she may, upon agreement with the employer, apply to the ImmD for a further extension of the limit of stay until the end of his/her contract such that he/she may return to the place of origin within that period.
If the aforementioned one-year period expires on or before April 30, 2023, the FDH may submit such application to the ImmD within eight weeks prior to the expiry of the existing limit of stay to further extend the limit of stay until the end of his/her contract. All applications should reach the ImmD on or before April 30, 2023. Late submission will not be accepted. The Government reminds employers and FDHs that the above flexibility arrangement must be mutually agreed between them, and that the requirement of FDHs returning to their place of origin remains in force. Employers should arrange for their FDHs to return to their place of origin within the extended limit of stay. For FDHs with the aforementioned one-year period expiring on or after May 1, 2023, the period for them to return to the place of origin will not be further extended.
In addition, the Government reminds FDHs and potential FDH employers that, in accordance with the prevailing FDH policy of the Government, an FDH shall leave Hong Kong upon completion of an employment contract or within two weeks from the date of contract termination, whichever is the earlier. Save for exceptional circumstances deemed reasonable by the ImmD (including the premature termination of contract owing to the transfer, migration, death or financial reasons of the original employer, or where there is evidence that the FDH has been abused or exploited), an application from an FDH for a change of employer in Hong Kong within the two-year contract period will normally not be approved. An FDH who wishes to have a new employer must leave Hong Kong and submit a fresh employment visa application to the ImmD.
The Government appeals to members of the public to submit visa applications for FDHs and further employment of FDHs through online means, including through the ImmD mobile application. Through the electronic services for visa application and an "e-Visa" arrangement implemented by the ImmD, members of the public can complete the entire process of the visa application, including application submission, payment and "e-Visa" collection. They may also enquire about the application status and submit supplementary documents and notification of premature termination of an employment contract via a dedicated "Online Services for Foreign Domestic Helpers" webpage set up by the ImmD at www.immd.gov.hk/fdh. The whole process does not require them to visit an office of the ImmD in person to go through the formalities, which is both convenient and time-saving.
The Government also urges employers and their FDHs to be mindful of the limit of stay and the passport validity of the FDHs and arrange for applications for visas and replacement of passports in advance.
For enquiries on employment rights and benefits of FDHs, please contact the Labour Department (LD) at the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by 1823) or by email to email@example.com. The dedicated FDH portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk) set up by the LD also provides information and useful links relating to the employment of FDHs. For enquiries on FDH visa applications, please contact the ImmD by calling the enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ends/Monday, December 19, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:55
Issued at HKT 15:55