Foreign domestic helper’s unexpected disappearance leads to employer’s frenzied WhatsApp messages

The employer, caught in a rainstorm, rushed to the police station to report the incident.

21st May 2024 – (Hong Kong) A foreign domestic helper unexpectedly went missing, as reported by a local employer on the popular social media platform Xiaohongshu.

The employer shared that after granting a day off, the helper complained of foot pain and requested to stay at her dormitory. Reluctantly, the employer agreed, setting a condition for the helper to return the next morning at 8am. However, the employer lost all contact with the helper, with messages and calls going unanswered. The situation escalated when the helper did not return home the following morning, prompting the employer to contact the employment agency. The agency advised that if the worker could not be contacted within 24 hours, the police should be notified.

This incident led to a flurry of responses from the online community, offering advice on how employers can protect themselves in similar situations. Key recommendations include:

  1. Maintaining records and reporting to the police: Keeping detailed records of all communications and incidents is crucial. In cases where a domestic worker goes missing, these records can be vital for police investigations.
  2. Checking the helper’s belongings before departure: It is advised that employers check the worker’s luggage before any extended leave. This precaution helps prevent theft of valuables.
  3. Terminating the contract and notifying Immigration authorities: If the situation escalates, terminating the employment contract and notifying the immigration authorities can be necessary steps to ensure legal compliance and security.
  4. Exercising caution with employment agencies: Employers are cautioned not to blindly trust employment agencies, as their primary goal is often to facilitate employment rather than resolve conflicts.

In the case discussed, the employer, caught in a rainstorm, rushed to the police station to report the incident. During this chaotic moment, the employer received a call from a family member stating that the helper had returned home. Upon returning, the employer learned that the helper had allegedly taken pain medication for her foot, which caused her to oversleep due to exhaustion, and her phone battery had died.

Despite the helper’s explanations, the employer, who acknowledged a language barrier, decided not to engage in a dispute and instead opted for a resolution through the employment agency. The following day, the helper was escorted to the agency, where the employer agreed to a severance of one month’s wage to terminate the employment amicably.