HIRING A DOMESTIC HELPER - FAQ
The following is a compilation of some the most frequently asked
related to the hiring of a Philippine / Indonesian maid.
Indonesian, Philippines or Thai maid ?
Should I select a Philippine maid, an Indonesian maid, or Thai maid
? Or should I consider helpers from Nepal, Sri Lanka or India ?
It really depends on what you are looking for and the reason for
hiring a maid. There are good and bad helpers from each of the
countries supplying maids to Hong Kong.
However they do have some distinct characteristics which could be
Indonesian maids tend to be hard working and willing to adjust to
accommodate the needs of the Employer. Indonesia maids are
industrious and more flexible with their weekly rest day
arrangements. The feeling that they are willing to accept lesser /
inferior working conditions is an outdated
concept and they are as aware of their rights as any other
Indonesian maids tend to be younger and most Indonesian maids have
high school education.
Many Indonesian maids in Hong Kong have working experience in
Singapore and decided to come to Hong Kong for better pay. Some can
speak good Cantonese and some are strong in English. Some Indonesian
maids are fluent in both English and Cantonese which really depends
on their previous working experience.
Philippine maids tend to be better educated. Most have attended
college. Some are university graduates and have special training in
various medical and professional fields.
The majority of Philippine maids can speak fluent English. Their Cantonese are
less proficient in comparison. Philippine maids usually are
cheerful, high-spirited and have pleasant and outgoing characters.
Philippine maids are good with young kids and can do some tutoring
with their home work.
Many Philippine maids have teaching certificates in the Philippines
and they are particularly suitable for this application.
Philippines maids are quite open to foreign culture and their living
style is relatively modern. They are easily adaptable to the living
environment of Hong Kong. Philippine maids are often chosen by Hong
Kong employers because of their higher level of education.
Thai helpers tend to be good cooks. They have amazing
capability to learn Cantonese and can master the language within a
short time. However, they are weaker in English. One of the reasons
suggested is that because they can communicate so well in Cantonese,
they will be using it most of the time with the employers and thus
have fewer chance to practice English. In general Thai maids
tend to be older and have primary school education.
Thai maids are particularly strong with elderly care due to their
proficiency in cooking and the Cantonese Language. Most of them are
Buddhist which fits well with the habits of local elderly persons.
Nepalese maids are usually hard working and loyal. But they tend to
stick to their own ways of doing things and thus require a lot of
patience. Maids from Sri Lanka and India are said to be very
intelligent and quick learners.
Indonesian maids are mostly Moslem and they do not eat pork. However,
they can handle and cook pork without any problem. It does not seem
to have caused a lot of inconvenience to most households.
Most Indonesian maids do not perform religious rituals at home while
others may pray at night. It is important that you work it out with the
maid during the interview to avoid conflicts.
Some Indonesian maids like to wear their ethnic costumes during the
holidays. If you feel uneasy about this, you must talk it out
clearly with the Indonesian maid before hiring.
Philippine maids are mostly Catholics or Protestant Christians and
they want to go to church on Sunday. It is important to agree on the
weekly rest day with them. Thai maids are mostly Buddhist and some
When selecting a maid, the employer should consider the distinct
characteristics of maids from various countries vis-a-vis the
individual needs of the family.
Local or Overseas Direct ?
There are quite a few Indonesian and Philippine maids available
locally for interview. The maids are physically in Hong Kong and
they have just finished or terminated their contract with the
Nowadays, many Philippine maids come to Hong Kong as tourists and
look for jobs. This is rather uncommon with Indonesian maids.
Thai, Nepalese, Sri Lanka and Indian maids are less readily
available in the local job market. Chance of picking a suitable
Indonesian or Philippine maid from the local pool is quite good.
When you hire someone who is locally available, the advantage is
you can interview with them and have a better feel of the real
person, and how they perform their duties. You can also call
their previous employers for reference.
On the other hand, you can hire someone directly from overseas.
Employment Agencies usually have a number of Philippine and
Indonesian maids on their file for your selection.
You can also do direct hiring of the Philippine and Indonesian maids
introduced by your friends' maids.
Direct hiring of Philippine maids is relative straight forward but
for Indonesian maids, the process could become quite complicated.
It is better to use an Employment Agency's service if you plan to do
direct hiring of Indonesian maids.
Foreign domestic helpers without previous working experience in Hong
Kong require a lot of training and patience. If you can afford the
time, you have a better chance of finding someone who will follow
your instructions strictly.
An older person without previous overseas working experience will
have more difficulty adjusting to the work requirements in Hong
Kong. In general, younger people, especially those who have previous
overseas working experience can adjust better and quicker.
Many Philippine and Indonesian maids who previously worked in
Singapore, Taiwan or the Middle East want to come to Hong Kong.
Maids who have worked in Singapore are considered to be more
adaptable to Hong Kong due to cultural similarity of the two cities.
Maids who have Middle East working experience are used to strict
rules. However, some worked in very big mansions with a high degree
of division of labour, which means they may only perform 1 or 2
chores repeatedly all the time. Otherwise, they are used to hard
work as the employers are usually quite strict.
Maids who have working experience in Taiwan are used to hard work
and strict rules also. However, many of the maids actually spent
more time working in factories and had little experience in house
The advantage is they can speak and understand Mandarin Chinese.
Indonesian maids in Taiwan tend to be mostly household worker while
quite a few Philippine maids are actually working in factories and
at home part time.
You can choose someone who has worked in Hong Kong before. Many of
them returned home to get married and later decided to work in Hong
Kong again to help out the family. This is particularly common with
Finish Contract or Break Contract ?
Hiring someone finished contract at least gives the comfortable
feeling that the maid has performed satisfactorily for the previous
However, someone who breaks contract does not mean they are bad or
incapable. There are many situations where breaking contract by
either side becomes inevitable and it is important to find out the
circumstances under which the contract was terminated.
It is not uncommon to find employers extremely happy with their
new maids who were prematurely terminated by their previous employers.
Local Hourly Amah ?
Hiring a local hourly helper may be a good alternative if you do not
have the need for a full time maid. If you do not have infants and
toddlers at home to worry about and you enjoy some light cooking and
cleaning at the end of the day after work, then hiring a local amah
for a few hours a week to help with cleaning may be a good choice.
That way, you will have more privacy.
For a working couple already bogged down with office work and
does not want to deal with grocery shopping, cooking and other house
chores on a daily basis, hiring a maid or household helper may just
be the solution. Having a maid can help you to be more productive at
work and even in your leisure time.
If you have infants and toddlers at home and are not fortunate
enough to have relatives willing to watch them during the day, you
might just have no choice.
Should I use an Employment Agency's service?
Employment Agency could help minimize the hassle of looking for a
helper. For a modest sum, an Employment Agency will save you a lot
of time. Some people have strong feelings against using the service
of an Employment Agency while others preferred to let someone else
do the leg work for them.
If you decide to use an Employment Agency, one safe way is to ask
your friends to recommend the one they have been dealing and happy
Most people who decided to do it themselves will go to the church,
some do Web Sites searches, and others rely on their friends or their
friends' maids to introduce helpers.
For processing of the application documents, most Employment
Agencies charge a reasonable amount and can save you a lot of time.
If you figure out the actual disbursements and the cost of your time involved,
you will probably be surprised to find that it is sometimes
cheaper to use an Employment Agency, especially in the case of applying
for a maid directly from overseas as direct-hire.
Whether you decide to use an Employment Agency or try to find your
own, it is important to remember that you are ultimately responsible
to ask all the right questions regarding the quality of the maid and
to make an informed decision to find a suitable one for your family.
IP Camera for Home Surveillance ?
If you already have an IP Camera for Home Surveillance or intend to
install one soon, it is just fair to let the helper know first
before they decide to work for you. Some have very strong feelings
against being watched all the time. In any event, it is important
that IP Cameras not be installed in the helpers' bedroom as it is
extremely inconvenient for them.
Loan Company and Related Issues
Many helpers decide to borrow money from loan companies to meet
emergency needs back home. Others may become co-borrowers, guarantors
or references for their friends inadvertently.
When an employer is alerted by a loan collector's call, it is
extremely annoying. This is a big hassle for the employer. Many are
extremely angry after learning about that.
It is important to make it clear to your maid that this shall not be
allowed to happen and that they should inform you first before
signing any paper.
Even though a loan collector may not do any physical harm to your
children, a maid who cannot concentrate on their job because of
loan problem could be hazardous to the children under their care.
If possible, it is better to work with the maid to arrange for the
repayment as quickly as possible. Should all efforts fail, and the
maid decided to leave, it is important to fill up a 'Termination of
Employment Form' and have an Hong Kong Immigration Department chop
on it. After seeing a copy of that, normally the loan collector will
not bother with calling your family again.
Other Things To Consider
Some maids like to wear long hair while others prefer short hair
style. While it is one's own personal preference, many employers
have strong feelings about it.
Obviously, long hair requires more care. If improperly managed, it
could post a health hazard and you may find hair in your soup quite
frequently. It is hard to ask a maid to change their hair style
simply to take up a job. So it is important that you make it part of
your considerations before signing a contract.
Some employers consider married people who have babies of their own
more stable and suitable as helpers. Others considered single person
a better choice with fewer family problems back home to worry about.
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