In Hong Kong, the majority of expatriate households and very many local families employ domestic help.
This traditional Chinese custom has survived the centuries due to many factors, including the ready availability of staff, the relative low-cost factor, weather conditions, convenience and lifestyle.
Hong Kong is a very social community and the pace of life is very fast. Quite a lot of entertaining takes place in the home and can be on the formal side. Most homes are built with servant's quarters that usually comprise one small room and bathroom. The older buildings provide larger rooms, often two, as family custom used to be for one maid (amah) for each family member, plus cook, cleaning and laundry amahs.
These days, most families content themselves with one domestic helper, although some executives employ two, or even a couple: the husband may be the cook or driver or attend to any gardening or outside work. The servant's rooms are often surprisingly small, but are generally quite acceptable to the domestic helpers who spend most of their time in the family living quarters.
When employing domestic helpers other than Hong Kong Chinese, strict Immigration procedures apply and it is necessary to arrange a formal contract which is provided by and registered with the Immigration Department. These are for a standard two years and the salary scale is fixed by legislation.