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Helper going to Canada. Help!

  1. #1
    peainpod is offline Registered User
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    Helper going to Canada. Help!

    Our helper just told us that she has an opportunity to go work in Canada. I've been caught off-guard by the news, not least because she has only been with us for less than a year.

    She's our first helper (I hired her while pregnant) and we have a good relationship and she seems quite happy with us. (In fact, she told us the news with teary eyes and said if it weren't for the fact that she could pay off all her family's debt in a year, she wouldn't want to leave us.)

    I feel quite torn by the news - on one hand I am glad that she has this opportunity (she also has a young autistic son and Canada would have much better resources for him) but on the other hand, I am very worried for our household. Both my husband and I work and we really rely on her to take care of our baby (who turns 7 months in a week).

    To her credit, she did give us very early warning (apparently she will only meet with her prospective employer this weekend) and she doesn't want to break our contract until her Cdn visa comes through which she says, should take about 3 months. (Is that true? Does anyone have experience with this?)

    She also strongly recommended her cousin whom she says is very good with kids to replace her. Her cousin is currently in Philippines and has never come to HK to work before). On the other hand,, the transition will be smoother as her cousin is prepared to wait until she is ready to leave before coming to HK. (If I hire someone else, they may wish to start earlier.)

    Although I agreed to interview her cousin (webcam), I am keeping an open mind, as I want to look at options of hiring someone already here in HK as well. However, I have agreed not to terminate her and if I do find someone new, I don't mind having the two of them overlap a bit - if indeed her visa only takes 3 months.

    My dilemma is two-fold. I like my helper's personality (it's her biggest plus as she is actually not a very good cleaner and can't cook, but she is very pleasant to have around the house and is good with the baby) and she's quite smart and quick on the uptake. More importantly, we found her very honest and trustworthy.

    I'm not sure however how much I should trust her recommendation. Does she really have our interests in mind when recommending her relatives? Also it's not really a given that her principles and integrity necessarily runs in her family. We don't mind hiring someone who is not so experienced (I do most of the cooking at home and we aren't too anal about the cleaning) but we really want someone with a good character.

    And should I start looking now? I don't want the overlap to be too long (our house is not very big, although we are looking actively to move to a place with decent sized maid's room) but I am worried that it will be hard to find a good helper in HK. I hear stories of how the hiring is really hot right now and good ones go very quickly.

    Sorry for the long post but I've been surprisingly hard hit by the news. Anyone have similar stories to share and any advice would be greatly appreciated!


  2. #2
    momofthree is offline Registered User
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    I can't give you much info on hiring a new helper but as a Canadian family returning to Canada end of this year and taking our helper with us I can give you some info on that.

    Our previous helper who had also been with us for only a year applied to go to Canada and her processing time took 4 months.When she recieved the visa I asked her if she wanted to work her notice period or pay us one month.She decide to stay on with us for the month in which time I found a replacement helper.So with her it was 5 months from when she first told us to her actually leaving.We did mutally agree that if our family had found a suitable replacement before her visa came though that we would terminate her contract and she would have to wait in the Phil for her Candadian visa.

    Our present helper who we are taking with us just recieved her visa after only 2.5 months,but I have been told that it is taking up to 8 months now to process.You helper can only enquire about her processing time once 4 months has passed.

    She has been considerate letting you know in advance but I would be sure to negociate some terms with her now ie,if you find a replacement helper before her visa comes through will you keep her on as a second helper until the visa comes through or terminate her contract in which case she will need to wait in the Phil for her visa to be approved.

    If you decide to wait until her visa is approved before you employ someone else it is only fair in my opinion that she work her notice period out so that you have a full month to find someone else once you know an exact start date of a new contract.She should inform her prospective employer in Canada of this arrangement too as they may not be in a position to wait.

    Before she is granted her visa she will be required to produce a reference letter from you,without which her visa will under no circumstances be granted.So while you can support her in the wonderful opportunity and maintain a good working relationship till the end,you do to some extent have the upper hand on ensuring that you are not left in the lurch.

    Hope this helps you
    Good Luck!

  3. #3
    rani's Avatar
    rani is offline Administrator
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    Our helper is planning on getting married next year and we're in the same boat. She'd also like us to employ a sister. She's been with us now for 5 years and is really a lovely person. You're right there is no guarantee her sister is the same.

    I was thinking of inviting the sister to come and visit for a couple of weeks so we can meet her. Tickets are cheap on Cebu Pacific. If we do decide to hire her then was planning on making sure there is handover period of a few weeks. Now that the levy has been removed, makes it a bit easier to hire 2 helpers concurrently.

    Forgot to mention, you may want to start with a Phone Interview. Just to ensure she can speak English and understands you.


    Good luck!

  4. #4
    peainpod is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for the great info and advice.

    I checked with the Cdn Consulate and the processing time (assuming all the paperwork is in place) is around three months right now. But that's from the time the employer in Canada has submitted their papers in Canada and the Consulate here gets the go-ahead from HQ.

    Rani: I thought that it was very expensive for non-DH Filipinas to come to HK on a holiday as when they return, they have to pay a huge tax or something? (That's why everytime a DH goes home for vacation, she has to pay a fee at the Philippine Consulate to avoid this tax) Is this true?

    (If not, maybe we could pay for the cousin of our DH to come as well...)

    Anyway, I'm going to try and do a phone interview with her cousin tomorrow night to get a better sense of how good a fit she would be for us.

    Any tips on how to conduct a phone interview?

  5. #5
    rani's Avatar
    rani is offline Administrator
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    Quote Originally Posted by peainpod View Post
    Thanks for the great info and advice.


    Rani: I thought that it was very expensive for non-DH Filipinas to come to HK on a holiday as when they return, they have to pay a huge tax or something? (That's why everytime a DH goes home for vacation, she has to pay a fee at the Philippine Consulate to avoid this tax) Is this true?
    Haven't heard about a tax before. Just asked my helper and she says there isn't one. We had another helper's daughter come visit a couple years ago during school break. I can't imagine her Mum paying a tax, she's always broke. :) Anyway will check with a few others.

  6. #6
    diylim is offline Registered User
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    peainpod, I believe the tax you are pertaining to is for anyone who holds a Filipino passpost and who come to HK as a tourist. This travel tax is P1620 (around HKD265). For a DH who has a working contract in HK, this travel tax is only P300 (HKD50). Both cases still have to pay for the airport tax which cost around HKD100. In this case, I think your helper's cousin will come to HK as a tourist.

    If you hire a helper via a HK agent, I believe you don't have to pay for her ticket to HK but you have to pay for the one to go back once her contract ends.

  7. #7
    dimsum mum is offline Registered User
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    hi pea
    you've been given some very good advice and i wanted to add that your helper has been very upfront with you and obviously has your best interests in mind. but although she may think her relative will be a great match, and the relative might have excellent qualifications, i find that personalities have SO MUCH to do with a successful employer-employee relationships. if possible, definitely meet the potential employee.

    and good luck. our helper left to go to canada one year ago. she still calls every week and we saw her this summer.

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