Christmas is the peak season for resignations among Filipino Domestic Helpers. Here is what you can do to prevent your helper from resigning.
Christmas is a BIG deal in the Philippines
The Philippines is the only Asian country with a majority of Christians, about 80% of people being Catholics. Therefore, Christmas is the most important holiday in the Philippines. People in the Philippines like to celebrate Christmas for as long as possible! The playing of Christmas carols in shops can start in September! The formal Christmas celebrations start on 16th December when many people go to the first of nine pre-dawn or early morning masses. The last mass is on Christmas day. The Christmas celebrations usually continue until the First Sunday in January.
Christmas (Oct/Nov/Dec) is also the peak season for resignations among Filipino FDHs. From October to December, more and more Filipino domestic helpers become homesick and want to celebrate Christmas with their families in the Philippines. Others will show signs of depression and their performance may suffer.
As employers, what shall we do? How do we determine if our helpers are homesick or not? How to prevent them from quitting the job? Here are some suggestions:
My helper wants to take her annual leave during the Christmas season
Many helpers, even those who have worked for less than 1 year, will ask their employer’s permission to have holidays back home in December. Their desire is so strong that if the employers refuses to give them holidays to meet their families, they will sometimes resign. - How should you handle such requests?
Decide if this will work for you or not
If you can't possibly allow them to go home, tell them directly "I'm really sorry, I wish I could let you go home for Christmas, but we desperately need your service during that time. I know you miss your family greatly." Explain the difficulty to them and tell them you will make arrangements for them to have some good skype time with their families.
If you can arrange it keep the following in mind:
- Remember, whenever a domestic helper takes one week annual leave , you need to also add one day for their weekly holiday; 7 days annual leave + 1 weekly day off = 8 days holiday. You may also give the helper some unpaid leave so that she has enough time to travel home to the province, enjoy the holiday with her family, and then travel back to Hong Kong.
- The helper is responsible to pay for her own annual leave travel arrangements. Unless she is finishing her contract or you are terminating the contract, you are not responsible to pay for her annual leave air tickets. Some employers like to give full or half payment of the air ticket as a Christmas gift. Other employers will like to give the full or half payment of the air ticket when the helper return to Hong Kong, to encourage their helpers to come back after the holidays. No matter how you arrange things, please document clearly the calculation of holidays.
- Tell your helper she needs to update her POEA OEC. Your helper can now update online here: POEA OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT CERTIFICATES (OEC)
- Write a letter stating that your helper is returning to the Philippines for annual leave and you intend to continue employing her until the end of the contract period. This will prevent problems going through Philippines Immigration.
- You may also wish to write an agreement with your helper to clearly state that failure to return from holiday will be interpreted as termination of contract. Here is a sample agreement.
My helper is staying in HK for the Christmas holiday. What can I do to make her Christmas away from home a special time?
Give her a red pocket:
For helpers working in Hong Kong for less than 3 months, they can enjoy the statutory holiday WITHOUT PAY. That means the employer shall let their helper enjoy the statutory holidays but employers can deduct that day’s salary. We recommend that you treat your helper with generosity. Even if she is here less than 3 months, let her enjoy the Christmas Day WITH PAY. It is a practical way to show your concern and will help your helper to feel your love and care directly.
For helpers working for more than 3 months in Hong Kong, consider to give your helper a red pocket(with money) as Christmas as gift or bonus, so they can enjoy a better meal with friends. The amount is up to employer’s decision.
If you observe they show any signs of homesickness: your helper easily cries, has no facial expression, performance drops suddenly, you or your spouse (depends on who manages the helper) should find a time to talk to your helper, thank her for leaving home to work in your family, and then share with her your observations. Listen to her, comfort her and let her know that you appreciate her sacrifice for her family.
Give your helper holiday on Christmas day: December 25th.
Employers can decide either to give their helper holiday on the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival or Christmas Day). Give her Christmas rather than the Winter Solstice if possible.
If you cannot manage to give your helper holiday on December 25, please consider to give her holiday on Christmas Eve. Give her longer time to use mobile to chat with her family member on Christmas. If you do not feel comfortable to share the wifi password with your helper, consider to lend her your computer or laptop, so they may use skype to chat with their family on Christmas.
Christmas is near, get prepared. May you and your helper enjoy a peaceful and Merry Christmas.