A. Compulsory Insurance Policy: Employees’ Compensation Policy
In Hong Kong, it is compulsory for an employer to be in possession of a valid insurance policy to cover his/her liabilities in respect of work injuries sustained by his/her employees.
Under section 40 of the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance ( Chapter 282 of the Laws of Hong Kong), no employer shall employ any employee in any employment unless there is in force in relation to such employee an insurance policy issued by an insurer for an amount not less than the amount specified in the said Ordinance in respect of the liability of the employer. This also applies to employment of foreign domestic helpers.
An employer who fails to take out an employees’ compensation insurance for his/her employee(s) commits a criminal offence and shall be liable to a fine up to HK$100,000 and to imprisonment up to 2 years.
B. Medical and travel insurance
In addition to employees’ compensation insurance policy which is compulsorily required, employers should consider taking out other kinds of insurance policy which may be relevant to the employment of domestic helpers, such as medical insurance and travel insurance policies.
1. Medical insurance
An employer of a foreign domestic helper has the obligation to pay for the medical fees and expenses incurred by the helper. According to Clause 9 of the standard Employment Contract, “In the event the Helper is ill or suffers personal injury during the period of employment...except for the period during which the Helper leaves Hong Kong of his/her own volition and for his/her own personal purposes, the Employer shall provide free medical treatment to the Helper. Free medical treatment includes medial consultation, maintenance in hospital and emergency dental treatment.”
In such circumstances, although it is not compulsory to take out a medical insurance policy for a foreign domestic helper, an employer should seriously consider doing so, where both parties will enjoy a better protection in case of medical incidents suffered by the helper.
2. Travel insurance
It is not uncommon for employers in Hong Kong to bring along their foreign domestic helpers to take care of their children or elderly family members while they travel to the mainland or overseas with their families.
There is no prohibition against foreign domestic helpers following their employers to such trips and working for their employers outside Hong Kong. The conditions of stay in respect of a foreign domestic helper apply only whilst he/she is in Hong Kong. As such, a foreign domestic helper may follow his/her employer to go abroad on a mutual consent basis.
However, if a foreign domestic helper does follow his/her employer to go abroad, the employer should pay particular attention to the insurance arrangements. If the foreigner domestic helper gets injured during the course of employment in the destination country or territory, he/she may claim compensation in accordance with the employees’ compensation law of that country or territory. In other words, the employee may choose to claim under the laws of that foreign country or that of Hong Kong. Hence, an employer should check whether the employees’ compensation insurance policy taken out covers liabilities and compensation for injuries sustained when working abroad; and if it does not cover the same, the employer should consider taking out relevant insurance policies, such as travel insurance policy, for the domestic helper.
Moreover, both the employer and the foreign domestic helper should observe the relevant visa requirements as well as the laws and regulations of the destination country or territory.