Family holidays can be stressful—especially when you have to look after your energetic little monkeys all the time—so if you’re planning on taking your domestic worker with you on your next holiday, you should know that there are many things to consider beforehand. Luckily, Freedom Jackson, owner of Maid For You, an ethical employment agency in Hong Kong, is here to give us some pointers on how to plan a trip abroad when bringing a domestic work, questions to ask, and things to consider so you, your family, and your helper can have an enjoyable getaway from the city.
1. Before you start planning…
Be sure to ask and clarify with your domestic worker whether or not she would actually like to accompany you. While everyone loves having holidays, not all people enjoy travel—some might even be prone to illnesses when travelling abroad! Your helper should be under no pressure to say yes. If she is willing to go on holiday with you, who will care for your home while you are away? Do you have pets that need feeding or plants that need watering? Something as small as a task like emptying the dehumidifier can be important during Hong Kong’s hot humid months (it’s amazing how quickly your home and belongings can become mouldy!).
2. Get the paperwork
Labour regulations, such as minimum wages and working hours, of the country that you will be staying in still apply, so you will need a working contract in the country of your destination, or a working visa in most western countries like the states, UK, and Europe. Some countries, like the US, will not grant a visa unless your helper has been working for you for a minimum of one year. Without such documents, it is illegal to have her work for you. The offence is criminal and may be classed as human trafficking in some countries such as Thailand or Indonesia.
You should also make sure that her Hong Kong insurance is valid abroad. If not, you will need to purchase separate travel insurance. Remember, you are liable for your helper’s injuries and/or medical costs while she is under your employment, no matter where you are in the world.
3. What are the working hours?
While you are abroad, you should think about whether your domestic worker will be taking her normal days off. If you prefer for her to compensate her days off after your return to Hong Kong, make sure you discuss this with her.
If she does take days off, how she spends her time is important too. Consider these following questions:
- Is it safde for her to go out on her own? What items will she need to ensure she will not get lost?
- Does she have the necessary travel passes or currency?
- If she wants to go to church, how easy is it for her to get there?
- Will she be able to contact you or her family at home?
- Does she have a local SIM card to any access to wi-fi?
It’s a good idea to give her some spending money too so you can encourage her to sightsee, shop, and experience more of the destination.
4. Work duties
Since you are abroad, your helper’s duties and workload will change. For example, it will be unlikely that she has to cook any meals, but will she have to prepare other things like snacks for the little ones? If you are travelling with extended family or close friends who also have kids, make it clear from the beginning whether she will have to take care of other children besides your own. Additional monetary compensation may be necessary if she is looking after other kids.
5. Daily arrangements
Now that you’ve worked out all the big picture stuff, now it’s time to think about other questions and daily arrangements. Where will she sleep? What will she eat? Depending on your holiday destination, there might not be food available that can cater to her dietary restrictions (if any), if that is the case, a food allowance could be given to her, bearing in mind the cost of living in the country you are visiting.