Under Hong Kong law, domestic helpers are considered employees and must be protected under mandatory Employees Compensation Insurance (EC Insurance). This insurance, sometimes called domestic helper insurance, indemnifies them for any injuries sustained on the job and protects you from liability for their injuries.
Hong Kong has adopted Western-style labour laws requiring employers to carry insurance that protects employees against workplace injuries. This law, enacted by the Labour Department, is called the Hong Kong Employees Compensation Ordinance.
This legislation stipulates that any employer in Hong Kong employing at least 1 person must carry Employees Compensation insurance. Since employers are liable by law for the injury of their employees while at work, this insurance protects both employers AND employees from workplace injuries or illnesses. This applies also to families or individuals who hire domestic helpers but in this context, it’s commonly referred to as domestic helper insurance.
Do I Domestic Helper Insurance in Hong Kong?
Many clients who have domestic helpers are surprised to learn that this EC Ordinance also applies to them. The common misconception is that this only applies to businesses that hire full time employees such as restaurants or shops. In fact, the EC Ordinance requires all types of employers (including domestic employers) carry insurance to protect workers of all types - including part time and even seasonal workers.
Another common misconception is that domestic work is safe and there really isn’t any risk to be insured against. Again, this is not true upon closer inspection. Think about all the times you’ve hurt yourself at home. I’m sure we’ve all slipped and fell inside our house, cut our fingers while chopping vegetables or burned our hands while cooking. These are all injuries that can be serious and even life threatening.
Our domestic helpers are an integral part of our lives. Many come from distant countries to help us raise our children, clean our house, and prepare our meals. Even without the EC Ordinance’s requirements, we should still look at protecting them and ourselves with the right domestic helper insurance.
Domestic Helper Insurance Requirements Under the EC Ordinance
Failure to carry the right domestic helper insurance in Hong Kong carries stiff penalties under the ordinance. The required limit for domestic helpers is HK$100 million. Failure to purchase and maintain this required level of insurance can result in fines of up to $100,000 HKD and prison sentences for up to 2 years.
Under the EC Ordinance, the cost of this insurance also cannot be deducted from the domestic helper’s wages. 100% of the premium must be paid for the employer. And when an injury occurs, you must report it to the Commissioner of Labour and the insurer as soon as you become aware of it. You should also keep detailed records of the event and the compensation provided by the insurer.
Domestic Helper Insurance Comparison
Although the minimum limit required of domestic employers (employers with under 200 employees) is HK$100 million, that is just the minimum requirement. Depending on the severity of the injury or illness, age of the domestic helper, and numerous other factors, actual amounts of compensation required could be much higher so evaluate your limits accordingly.
To learn more about your obligations as a domestic employer or to get a quote on domestic helper insurance, contact a licensed employee compensation insurance specialist at Trusted Union.