The Laws and Regulations for Employment Are Within the Employment Ordinance
The employment laws in Hong Kong are regulated by the Employment Ordinance. Several right, protection, and benefits fall under the ordinance. However, they are only available for employees categorised as “continuous employees.”
What Is Defined as a Continuous Employee?
A “continuous employee” is an employee who is employed under a contract that is continuous. This means that the employee in question must work for the same employer for a minimum of four consecutive weeks. The minimum hours of work per week are 18-hours.
A continuous employee is entitled to the following:
- Statutory holidays (Hong Kong has 12 in total)
- Statutory annual leave (up to 14 days depending on the length of service)
- At least one rest day every seven days
- Sick leave (up to 120 days “accrued”)
- 10 weeks paid maternity leave for female employees
- Five days paid paternity leave for male employees
Employment Contracts in Hong Kong
Under the employment laws, contacts can be either permanent or fixed-term contracts. Contracts that have no specified period will be deemed one-month contracts. This means the contract is renewable monthly provided the employee has a minimum of 18-hours per week for at least four weeks.
Unlike many other jurisdictions in Asia, there is no requirement that states contracts must be in writing. This also means that it is easy to terminate employees in Hong Kong. However, most contracts are in writing in practice. Since it has two official languages, Chinese and English, English is commonly applicable for business, legal, financial, and professional sectors.
Terminations are straightforward. Companies can terminate employment contracts at any time by giving the employee notice. The notice period should abide by what it says in the signed contract. In lieu of notice, payments are given to the dismissed employee.
The termination notice period could vary, depending on the company. It could be anywhere from seven days to 30 days’ notice. It depends on the contract and the circumstances surrounding the termination.
Probation Periods in Hong Kong
Probation periods of no restriction. They can range anywhere from three to six months, which is the most typical arrangement. Either party can terminate the contract at any point during the first month of probation, irrespective of what the contract says.
Employers are not obligated to provide notice periods to their employees before they put an end to the contract.
Minimum Wage, Salaries, and Social Security
The minimum wage in Hong Kong is 34.50, and it has been since 2011. As of 1 May 2019, this has increased to 37.50 per hour.
The pension fund in Hong Kong is called the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF). All employees must be enrolled in the system by employers within 60 days of employment. This is mandatory unless there is an exemption.
End of year bonuses is often paid out to employees during Chinese New Year. Recently, this has been increasingly replaced by performance-related bonuses.
Under the employment laws in the country, it is the employee’s responsibility to pay their taxes. Employers are not obligated to withhold salaries in the payroll system for tax purposes.
Under the employment laws, disputes are settled by the Hong Kong Labour Tribunal. They are a jurisdiction that exclusively handles labour issues. This includes issues pertaining to employment contracts and claims breaches. You will not be entitled to a legal representation if you bring your case to the tribunal.
Privacy and Data Protection
Per the employment laws, all employers must comply with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (PDPO). The PDPO is the one responsible for the handling and governing of an employee’s personal data.