Finding the Right Domestic Helper and Handling the Paperwork

Finding the best candidate

HelperChoice facilitates direct hires, which means you are in control of finding the best helper for your family. The process is straightforward: Create a job ad and contact job-seekers, narrow down the pool of candidates, select the best person for the job, and then begin the paperwork process.

Drafting a job ad

Make sure that your ad is clear and ‘sells’ the job. If you require specialised skills, say so! For example, if your helper should have training or experience related to childcare, be sure to state this clearly in the ad. Consider offering a salary that is above the minimum wage if you are looking for someone with experience or certain skills.

Shortlisting and interviewing candidates

Use our search feature to find candidates who meet your requirements (such as applicants’ preferred contract status, level of experience, or skillsets). Then, shortlist those candidates who tick all the boxes. At the same time, you should receive numerous responses to your job ad.

We suggest that you send a list of around 10 questions to the best potential candidates (from the list of those you shortlisted and those who contacted you directly). You might want to include questions such as: Why are you moving on from your current employer? Do you enjoy taking care of children? Are you allergic to pets? Make sure the questions are relevant to the job you’re advertising.

Based on the responses, you can narrow the pool of candidates to around 5-15 helpers, who you can now interview either face-to-face or by phone.

To avoid disappointment or wasted time, let candidates know that being on time for the interview is non-negotiable.

Prepare a list of situational questions for the interview to find out each helper’s approach to things like safety, security, handling stressful situations, and so on.

For in-person interviews, reconfirm interview timeslots by SMS or Whatsapp to avoid no-shows or late arrivals. Many helpers have no internet access once they leave their employers’ homes, so make sure they have your number should they need to call you to find the meeting place. You can introduce candidates to your home (including their would-be room) and your family – it is equally important that they are comfortable with the arrangement and eager to work for you.

Following these interviews, you will likely be left with the strongest 1-3 candidates.

Making your decision

Finally, ask for the contact details of candidates’ current or former employers, and arrange a brief call with them if possible. Alternatively, candidates may be able to provide you with written reference letters. The opinions of former employers can help you make up your mind and feel confident in your decision.

Once you have decided on the best person for the job, you can agree on an appropriate salary (of legal minimum wage for foreign domestic helpers or more) and sign the Immigration Department’s Standard Employment Contract for helpers.

Applying for your domestic worker’s visa

You can then begin the application process for your helper’s visa. The process differs depending on your helper’s contract status and nationality, and on whether you use an agency or make the application yourself.

Bear in mind that the waiting period before your helper can start depends on his or her contract status:

  • ‘Finished contract’ helpers can usually start 4-6 weeks after starting the paperwork process.
  • Helpers who are terminated due to relocation or financial reasons can usually start 5 to 7 weeks after processing starts.
  • Helpers with ‘break’ and ‘terminated’ contract status can usually only start their jobs after 8-12 weeks
  • Those who are overseas and moving to Hong Kong for the first time will normally be able to start 10-12 weeks from signing.

Note that in many cases, you will have to make use of an agency to process the paperwork. One exception is if your candidate is a Filipino who has ‘finished contract’ status and who is currently in Hong Kong. For more information on using an agency to handle the paperwork, read here. You can get an ethical employment agency referral by submitting this form if you are seeking an agency. For information on processing the paperwork yourself, follow this step-by-step guide.

Remember, your domestic worker can only start working for you once his or her visa has been processed. In the meantime, you can prepare your helper’s living space (which must be ‘suitable’ and must have reasonable privacy, according to the Immigration Department’s rules) and take out a mandatory insurance policy that covers your liability should your helper be injured on the job.

After your helper has started

Finding a quality domestic worker and arranging their visa is the first (and biggest) step. To make the most of having a full-time helper, you will need to manage and train them.

The information provided is a guide only and we do not accept responsibility for any inaccuracies or outdated information. Regulations are subject to change and employers should check the Immigration Department’s website, and contact the relevant embassy, for the latest updates.

Official resources:
The Labour Department of HKSAR
The Immigration Department of HKSAR
Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO)
Foreign Domestic Helper Corner by the Labour Department
Employment Agencies Portal by the Labour Department