Domestic Worker

A. Hiring of Domestic Helper / Worker / Maid

This section is relevant for jurisdictions (Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait) that permit the hiring of foreign domestic helpers to perform domestic duties. Before hiring a full-time foreign domestic helper, employers should be familiar with the local domestic helper laws and whether foreign domestic helpers are not protected by the local employment laws. It is important to understand the domestic helpers’ rights under various regulations to avoid any serious violation of the law.

In most jurisdictions, the following are the general requirements in hiring a foreign domestic helper:

  1. Rest Days - Foreign domestic helper is entitled to weekly rest days, which with the agreement of the helper, can be replaced with compensation.
  2. Accommodation – Foreign domestic helper must live with the employer’s family. The employer must provide adequate accommodation for the helper (meaning a separate room, or at least sufficient space and privacy). There should also be adequate natural or mechanical ventilation in the workers' rooms.
  3. Insurance and Medical - Foreign domestic helpers also have insurance and medical rights, which must be sponsored by the employer.
  4. Safe Working Environment - The employer must also provide a safe working environment for the helper. The room must also be safe and free of dangerous equipment such as tilted bookshelves or unsafe structures.
  5. Work Permit - The helper must have a work permit and can only do housework for the employer named on the permit.
  6. Food – The helper should eat at least three nutritious meals a day. As a basic rule, the employer can give to the helper the same food as the employer.
  7. House Work – The helper is not allowed to perform duties beyond housework and care, even for her employer. Different jurisdictions have different definitions of housework, some may not include gardening, car washing, repairs, and coaching.
  8. Respect – The employer should show respect to the helper and let her know that her hard work is being appreciated.

B. Termination of Domestic Helper / Worker / Maid

Can the employer or helper terminate the employment contract early? Most domestic duties contracts would allow either party to notify the other party in writing on the termination of the contract with 1-month advance notice.

Upon termination, the employer should clear all payables and salaries in arrears. Evidence of the payment receipts should be obtained from the domestic worker or the bank. The employer can also choose to make payment in lieu of notice and also pay the helper for any leaves accrued.

Only under very special circumstances can the employer terminate the contract be terminated without notice or payment in lieu of notice (i.e. firing the domestic helper):

  1. Intentional disobedience - disobey the law or reasonable order by the employer;
  2. Fraudulent - committed fraud or dishonesty; or
  3. Neglect – the helper neglect to perform the duties.

Similarly, the domestic helper can terminate the contract without notice to the employer if:

  1. Physical Danger – fear of physical danger, violence, or illness;
  2. Abuse – abuse by the employer; or
  3. Not fit for work – certified by a doctor as not fit for work.

Termination of an employment relationship without notice should only be considered under very special circumstances. One needs to ensure that the employer/helper has adequate evidence to support the termination. Otherwise, one may face a claim from the other party.


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