Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Can your foreign domestic helper double as your driver?


外傭姐姐可否兼任司機揸車?如出事保險有無得賠?

A car accident occurred last week in Lan Kwai Fong, Central, in which a vehicle rolled down a slope and injured eight passers-by. The female driver was later confirmed to be a foreign maid. She was accused of causing an accident by failing to tighten the handbrake while parking on an incline, and is now charged with causing death by dangerous driving. The incident has also raised the questions: are foreign domestic helpers allowed to serve as drivers? If so, how do they qualify for the role? Today, our experts at Kwiksure will go over the related requirements and application process.

Application requirements for foreign domestic helpers looking to become part-time drivers

According to the current standard employment contracts, domestic helpers are not allowed to work as full-time drivers. To be a part-time family driver, they must apply for a special permit from the Immigration Department. To obtain “Special Permission for Performance of Motor Driving Duties by Foreign Domestic Helpers”, they have to meet the following requirements:

  1. The helper needs to hold a Hong Kong full driving license. International driving license, temporary driving license, and probationary driving license will not be accepted.
  2. The permit requires the employer to provide sufficient proof that the foreign helper needs to “perform any of the 5 categories of primary household duties (i.e. household chores, cooking, caring for the elderly at home, babysitting, and child care)” and that “driving is required for such household duties”. Transporting employers to and from work or for recreation is out of scope.
  3. In addition, the employer must specify the ownership, type, and license number of the vehicle driven by the helper. The vehicle should be a family vehicle or a compact vehicle with no more than eight seats, and must be registered under the name of the employer or his/her spouse. If the vehicle is registered under a company, the employer must provide a certificate issued by the company that the vehicle is intended for use by the person concerned and his family members.
  4. The helper must live in the employer’s home.

Only after fulfilling the above requirements and completing the application form ID 934A will the Immigration Department consider whether or not to grant the permission to drive on a case-by-case basis. Thomas Chan, Chairman of The Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, estimates that currently only 1% to 2% of helpers in Hong Kong hold such permits, of which male helpers account for about 90%.

Application procedures, required documents, and fees

After completing the application form ID 934A, the employer can submit the form together with the helper’s application for a new entry visa to the Document Receipt and Forwarding of the Immigration Department. Alternatively, they may submit it together with the helper’s application for renewal or change of employer to the Foreign Domestic Helper Section. During the effective period of an employment contract, an application for a special permit for a foreign domestic helper to perform driving duties can be separately submitted to the Foreign Domestic Helper Section of the Immigration Department so that the Department can make changes to the conditions of stay as stamped on the helper’s passport.

The Immigration Department usually approves permit applications within 1 week of receipt of all required documents. If the application for special permission is submitted along with the entry visa or extension of stay application, these applications will be processed together and completed within 4 to 6 weeks. If the permit application is approved, the Immigration Department will notify the relevant employer and helper in writing.

As for the required documents, employers need to prepare:

  • Original copy of the new standard employment contract, together with the appendix on the accommodation and housework arrangements for the helper whom will be driving a vehicle
  • A copy of the valid registration license of the vehicle concerned
  • A copy of the valid Hong Kong driving license for the foreign helper concerned
  • If the vehicle is registered under a company, a certificate issued by the company must be produced to prove that the vehicle is intended for use by the person concerned and his family members

As for fees, the employer does not need to pay additional fees once the application for a special permit is approved. However, they must pay for the prescribed visa fee or extension fee of HK$230.

A foreign domestic helper driving without a license or permit is against the law

If a foreign helper serves as a family driver without a driving license or special permit, the employer will be held responsible once it is reported. The helper will also be charged for breaching the conditions of stay and, upon conviction, can be fined up to HK$50,000 and imprisoned for 2 years.

In the past 5 years, the Immigration Department has investigated 8 suspected cases of violation, of which it did not find sufficient evidence for prosecution in 6 cases, and the remaining 2 cases are still under investigation. There are criticisms on the lack of law enforcement because despite the harsh law, no prosecutions were made when someone broke the law.

If a foreign helper has an accident while driving, will your domestic helper insurance/car insurance cover it?








 

Domestic Helper Insurance

Third Party Car Insurance

Comprehensive Car Insurance

 

Driving license + special permit holder

Yes

No

Damage on vehicle driven by domestic helper

N/A

N/A

Applicable

(Deductible not applicable to registered driver, but applicable to unregistered driver)

N/A

Accidental death or property damage to a third party

N/A

Applicable

 

(Deductible not applicable to registered driver, but applicable to unregistered driver)

Applicable

 

(Deductible not applicable to registered driver, but applicable to unregistered driver)

Car insurance will provide compensation; the insurance company has the right to recover the loss from the car owner via civil claim

Domestic helper injury in car accident

A claim can be made from the employee compensation part

N/A

N/A

N/A

First, if the helper has a car accident and he/she holds a valid driving license and a special permit, the car insurance will cover the accident. If the helper is a registered driver of the vehicle, you do not need to pay a deductible when filing for claims. Otherwise, you will need to pay a deductible when you claim.

If the foreign helper causes third-party casualties or even property loss in the accident, you can only claim compensation from the third-party car insurance. The foreign domestic helper insurance does not cover third-party casualties caused by the helper in a car accident.

In addition, if the helper is injured in a car accident, the employee compensation part of the foreign domestic helper insurance can be claimed because he/she was injured on duty.

Lastly, if a foreign helper has a car accident during work, the insurance company is entitled to find out whether he/she holds a legal Hong Kong driving license and whether driving is within the scope of his/her work. If the helper fails to provide a valid driving license or permit, the insurance company will still compensate the third party for casualties and losses first, but retains the right to claim damages from the employer via a civil claim.

The impact of COVID-19 on hiring foreign domestic helpers

Due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, many helpers have not been able to enter Hong Kong due to immigration or security issues. Employers can only hire domestic helpers who are already in Hong Kong and have currently completed their contracts. In the case of high demand and low supply, the wages of these domestic helpers have risen, and there are a series of additional requests from these domestic helpers, such as having their own room or comprehensive insurance protection.

Securing domestic helper insurance with sufficient protection can help you find your best-fit worker as soon as possible. Instead of quoting from company to company yourself, get a free plan comparison and impartial advice from a reputable insurance broker like Kwiksure today!

Besides domestic helper insurance, Kwiksure also provides car insurance (third-party and comprehensive), motorcycle insurance, Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (VHIS), and many more. Get a free quote now with our online quotation tool! For a free plan comparison and impartial advice, contact our team of insurance advisors today.



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