1. Minimum working conditions
Basic entitlements enjoyed by all employees include payment of wages, restrictions on deductions from wages, granting of statutory holidays, protection against anti-union discrimination, and employment protection in respect to unreasonable and unlawful dismissal. Those working under a “continuous contract of employment” are entitled to further benefits such as rest days, paid statutory holidays, annual leave, sickness allowance, maternity protection, severance payment, long service payment and the like, subject to the specific longevity requirements for each.
Wage periods are month to month and wages are payable on expiry of the last day of the wage period, but not later than 7 days thereafter.
The Statutory Minimum Wage applies to all employees, whether they are full-time, part-time or casual employees, and regardless of whether or not they are employed under a continuous contract as defined in the Employment Ordinance.
With effect from 1 May 2015, the Statutory Minimum Wage rate was raised to HK$32.5 per hour.
3. Maximum working week
The Employment Ordinance provides that there must be not less than 1 rest day in every period of 7 days and the rest days shall be in addition to any statutory holiday or alternative or substituted holidays. The rest days may be with pay or without pay as agreed between employer and employee.
Hong Kong law does not confer any additional rights on employees to receive overtime pay apart from the above-mentioned overall Statutory Minimum Wage protection.
It is good practice to state clearly in an employment agreement whether overtime is paid or unpaid and the rate of pay, if appropriate.
There are 12 annual statutory holidays in Hong Kong, which any employee is entitled to, irrespective of his length of service. An employee having been employed under a continuous contract for not less than 3 months is entitled to pay on statutory holidays. The employer may, instead of granting an employee a holiday on a statutory holiday, grant the employee an alternative holiday on another day within the period of 60 days immediately preceding or following the statutory holiday, provided that the employer has given at least 48 hours of prior notice for work on a statutory holiday.
Annual leave with pay
Every employee who has been in employment under a continuous contract for not less than 12 months shall be entitled to paid annual leave. The number of annual leave days which an employee is entitled to ranges from 7 to 14 days per year, depending on the period of employment of the employee.
6. Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
The Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (Cap. 59), the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (Cap. 509) and the Boilers and Pressure Vessels Ordinance (Cap. 56) are the main legislation on occupational safety and health administered by the Labour Department. Requirements for ensuring the safety and health of employees at work are established in the ordinances and their subsidiary regulations. A breach of the statutory duties and standards for industrial and occupational safety in these ordinances and/or in the regulations made thereunder can give rise to criminal and/or civil liability.
In addition to the statutory duties, civil liabilities are imposed on employers for work-related injuries and the corresponding remedies may be available to injured employees under the common law of torts. Where an employee has been injured at work, an employer may face actions in one or more of negligence, vicarious liability, breach of statutory duty and occupiers’ liability.
Further, according to the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282), if an employee sustains an injury or dies as a result of an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, his employer is in general liable to pay a statutory compensation under this Ordinance even if the employee might have committed acts of fault or negligence when the accident occurred.
The Ordinance applies to employees employed in Hong Kong by local employers injured while working both inside and outside Hong Kong. In addition, an accident to an employee resulting in injury or death is deemed to arise out of and in the course of his employment if it happens while the employee is travelling, for the purpose of and in connection with his employment by any means of transport permitted by his employer, between Hong Kong and any place outside Hong Kong or between any other such places outside Hong Kong.
Even if the employer is a person carrying on business outside Hong Kong, the Ordinance still applies if the employers submit to the jurisdiction of the Courts of Hong Kong and the employees have been recruited or engaged in Hong Kong.