Table of contents
4 key points to remember when making holiday arrangements for domestic helpers1. 2022 Statutory Holiday Schedule for Foreign Domestic Helpers2. How to calculate the annual leave of foreign domestic helpers, is it possible to substitute leave with payment?3. Are domestic helpers allowed to work on rest days?4. How to calculate sick leave for the FDH?5. Is vacation leave paid or unpaid?
【2022 年外傭假期時間表】工人姐姐年假點計?放假安排 4 大要點

【2022 Foreign domestic helper's holiday schedule】How to calculate annual leave for your domestic helper? 4 key points to remember when making holiday arrangements

Domestic helpers are human after all, and they need to take vacations to relax every now and then, just like the rest of us. Employers who hire Indian or Filipino maids should have a clear idea of when their helpers will be on leave and plan accordingly. Otherwise, employers may end up thinking that the domestic helper is there to help them when she is on leave. What’s even worse is, when an employer thinks they can pay their helper to buy out their vacations, they could be in violation of the Employment Ordinance. 

In this Kwiksure article, we will examine how to calculate the four types of holidays for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), and whether these helpers can work on a holiday. Hopefully, this will serve to help employers abide by the law.

4 key points to remember when making holiday arrangements for domestic helpers

There are 4 types of holidays that FDHs are entitled to, namely statutory holidays, rest days, paid annual leave and vacation leave.

1. 2022 Statutory Holiday Schedule for Foreign Domestic Helpers

Under the Employment Ordinance, all foreign domestic helpers are entitled to local statutory holidays (also known as labor holidays).

It should be noted that statutory holidays are not public holidays (“red days”/bank holidays). In other words, Good Friday, the day after Good Friday, Easter Monday, and the first workday after Christmas are not holidays for FDHs.

PSA: Regardless of the length of service, even if the foreign helper has only been in her job for one day, the employer must allow the foreign helper to take statutory holidays. It is an offense not to allow the FDH to take these holidays, or to try to buy out these holidays from the FDH.

However, if both the employer and the domestic helper agree, the foreign domestic helper can actually work on statutory holidays, provided notice is given to the FDH at least 48 hours in advance, and make-up leave within 60 days is arranged. Even if the helper agrees, their statutory holidays cannot be bought out! Otherwise, the employer faces a maximum fine of HK$50,000!

In addition, if a statutory holiday coincides with an employee’s rest day (under the Employment Ordinance, employees are entitled to at least one day off for every 7 workdays). The employer must allow the employee to enjoy a day off on the day following the rest day, and cannot substitute this with money.

2022 statutory holidays (“labor holidays”)

New Year's Day

January 1 (Saturday)

First Day of Lunar New Year

February 1 (Tuesday)

Second Day of Lunar New Year

February 2 (Wednesday)

Third Day of Lunar New Year

February 3 (Thursday)

Ching Ming Festival

April 5 (Tuesday)

Labor Day

May 1 (Sunday)

Buddha's Birthday

May 8 (Sunday)

Dragon Boat Festival

June 3 (Friday)

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day

July 1 (Friday)

The day after Mid-Autumn Festival

September 12 (Monday)

National Day

October 1 (Saturday)

Chung Yeung Festival

October 4 (Tuesday)

Winter Solstice or Christmas (employer's discretion)

December 22 or December 25 (Thursday or Sunday)

In 2022, there will be a total of 13 days of statutory holidays for domestic helpers, which is one day more than for 2021 due to the addition of Buddha’s Birthday.

2. How to calculate the annual leave of foreign domestic helpers, is it possible to substitute leave with payment?

The number of days of paid annual leave for FDHs depends on her length of service with the employer. Paid annual leave starts from 7 days and increases by 1 day for every year of service completed, up to a maximum of 14 days. As long as the domestic helper has worked for three months, the employer is required to give them paid annual leave in proportion to their length of service completed.

In addition, and this is where paid annual leave differs slightly from statutory holidays - provided the FDH has accumulated more than 10 days of annual leave, and if both the employer and helper agree, the employer can pay the helper to forfeit that part of her accumulated annual leave in excess of 10 days.

Completed length of service

Number of days of paid annual leave

1 year

7 days

2 years

7 days

3 years

8 days

4 years

9 days

5 years

10 days

6 years

11 days

7 years

12 days

8 years

13 days

9 years or more

14 days

3. Are domestic helpers allowed to work on rest days?

Under the Employment Ordinance, foreign domestic helpers are entitled to one rest day for every seven workdays, and the rest day does not have to fall on Sunday. The employer can fix a day (such as every Wednesday), or it can be different every month. However, if this is the case, the employer must inform the domestic helper which days are rest days before the beginning of each month.

In addition, unless there is an emergency, the employer cannot require the domestic helper to work on a rest day. Under the law, the domestic helper is entitled to a rest day of not less than 24 consecutive hours every 7 days, and violators can be fined up to HK$50,000. However, provided the domestic helper agrees, a make-up day off can be arranged, but the make-up leave must be before the original rest day in the same month, or within 30 days after the original rest day.

4. How to calculate sick leave for the FDH?

When the domestic helper falls ill, provided she has a doctor's certificate, she can enjoy 2 days of paid sick leave per month in the first year of employment, and that will increase to 4 days of paid sick leave per month after the first year of service. Unused sick leave can be accumulated, up to a maximum of 120 days. Paid sick leave pay is 4/5 of the average daily pay.

5. Is vacation leave paid or unpaid?

If the domestic helper and the employer agree to renew the employment contract, under the “Standard Employment Contract”, the FDH must return to her place of origin for at least 7 days of vacation leave after the completion of the original 2-year contract and before the start of the new contract. However, whether the vacation leave is paid or not will depend on the wording of the contract. Finally, if the employer has applied for an extension of the period of stay (usually for no more than one year), and the domestic helper cannot return to her place of origin immediately for vacation, the employer must provide the vacation leave within the extended period of stay.

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