Hiring a domestic helper can be useful as the time saved can be used as a family time of personal time. But careful scrutinizing is also essential. After all the domestic helper is a part of your household, even the family will be dependent on him/her in one way or the other.
During the recruitment process laws of Hong Kong on equal opportunities and protection of personal data need to be observed.
Laws on equal opportunities
The Government of Hong Kong prohibits discrimination against any person in terms of sex, marital status, pregnancy, family status, disability and race.
A person is entitled to employment, education, provision of goods, services and facilities and disposal or management of premises and activities of the government.
Any person or enterprise found in violation of these rules shall be subjected to prosecution by the Equal Opportunities Commission and shall be tried under the laws prevalent in District Court.
Laws on protection of personal data
The laws of the Hong Kong government state that any breach of personal data shall be immediately notified to the Commissioner, along with the parties affected by the data along with the law enforcement agencies. Any breach will be answerable to legal proceedings.
Here are some points of note to be considered while interviewing the domestic helper in Hong Kong:
1. Venue at which the interview will be conducted
If the recruitment agency is the chosen option, then it limits to the choices. But if one is pursuing domestic helpers through market sources, one can interview them in any place. If the agency is the source, then the location of conducting the interview will be the agency itself where there might be chances that the candidate has already been filled in by the agency and would not be forthright with the answers in complete honesty. If the interview is going to be conducted elsewhere, one should select the venue of the interview where both parties are comfortable. Having this interview in the employer’s house is advisable, since this would give the candidate a glimpse of the expected work place.
2. Personal details of the candidate
It is sensible that certain details of the candidate be asked first-hand. They can be questioned regarding their family, the number of members in their family, if they are the only earning member of their family and so on.
- Ask them about their marital status.
- Ask them about their children or siblings [if they are unmarried] and their ages.
- Do they own any property back at home?
- Do they have any debt or out standings?
- If there is a situation at their home, will they have to leave their job and return home.
All these questions will help in analyzing if they are in a position to continue with you for a long period of time. While asking all these questions, make sure that they are comfortable with any of these questions, if they are not, do not pressurize them for answers.
3. Details regarding their previous jobs and experiences
When interviewing the candidate, ask them about the number of jobs they have had, and the reasons for leaving those jobs. Ask whether any of their previous employers were expats, the kind of work they handle before, their working schedule in their previous jobs and so on. Ask them if they were given the responsibility of handling cash for shopping groceries or vegetables. Ask the kind of cuisine they are familiar with when cooking and if they are well versed with delicacies that children would like. Also, ask if they know how to prepare diet food if your family needs it. Since, he/she will become a part of the household, it is better to get acquainted with them properly.
4. Disciplinary techniques and their presence of mind
The domestic help may be required to babysit the children too. Even if not so, the children are always playing around in the house. In this scenario, if the child does something wrong or misbehaves, ask how they will respond and handle the situation. The manner, in which they will discipline the child, could leave a mark on their young minds. It is also essential that they are hygienic; loving to children, and have basic manners, since children pick up habits from people around them. You would not need an unruly, messy and unhygienic helper to teach unwanted things to your children.
5. Documents, certificates and references
Before appointing any person, it is safer to check that their papers are in order. If they are immigrants, then they have cleared all the formalities of the immigration department and that they have the permission to work in Hong Kong. Along with that if they have received any training in first aid or nursing at home, it is an added plus. These skills do come in handy in case of emergencies. Make sure you check in regards to references that are provided. Instead of verbal references, ask for their phone numbers and original residential location for a thorough background check on them.
Use a direct method of interview in which the candidate feels comfortable and does not hide any details. Do a good background check on helpers as they will be around in the house with family members and you would not want any criminal or rule-breaker close to your family. While appointing a domestic helper, make sure that all the rules are followed, and a contract is drawn out accordingly.
Edouard Muller is a French entrepreneur working in the Hive Sai Kung. He is the founder of HelperPlace – a leading platform to find the right domestic helper in Hong Kong.