• The Standard Working Hours Committee has released a discussion paper for public comment on policy options for regulating working hours in Hong Kong. Currently, there is no statutory restriction on the number of working hours for employers aged 18 years or over and no legislatively prescribed rate of pay for overtime worked. Following a first-stage consultation and survey, the Committee is now seeking public comment by 24 July 2016 on a dual-pronged approach, comprising:
    • the "big frame": legislation requiring parties to enter into written employment agreements specifying working arrangements, including for example working hours, rest breaks and the method of calculating overtime pay (which may include no overtime pay);
    • the "small frame": involves additional rules for grassroots employees with lower income, lower skills and less bargaining power, to regulate weekly working hours and mandate overtime pay.

Comment is also sought as to whether other policy measures (eg, voluntary guidelines for individual sectors) would be more appropriate.

  • The Equal Opportunities Commission has recently published recommendations to the Government in relation to discrimination law. Some of the key measures flagged as high priority and in need of action include:
    • disability discrimination: introducing a distinct duty on employers and others to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and repealing the "unjustifiable hardship" provisions;
    • harassment: holding employers liable if they fail to take steps to prevent harassment of their employees by a third party (where the employer has notice of the harassment) or of others in a common workplace; and
    • protection for women: introducing a statutory right for women to return to their previous role (or, if that no longer exists, a suitable alternative role) on their return from maternity leave and expressly prohibiting discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding.

The EOC also called for research and consultation on proposals to improve legal recognition and protection from discrimination for unmarried couples (whether heterosexual or homosexual) in a cohabiting relationship.