In the September 2008 edition of our International Employment Update, we reported that the Legislative Council passed the Race Discrimination Ordinance on 18 July 2008.

New legislation

Since the passing of the Ordinance, the Equal Opportunities Commission has released a draft Code of Practice on Employment for public consultation. The consultation period ended on 19 January 2009 and it is expected that the Code will be presented to the Legislative Council during the first quarter of 2009. The final version of the Code will be released once it is ratified by the Legislative Council. In addition, some administrative provisions have since come into effect in October 2008, with the substantive provisions i.e. those provisions making race discrimination unlawful – expected to come into effect sometime in mid-2009.

Effect on employers

As reported previously, it should be noted that an employer will be vicariously liable for an employee’s contravention of the Ordinance in the course of his employment, irrespective of whether those acts are done without the employer’s knowledge or approval. In light of this, it is prudent for employers in Hong Kong to provide proper training to their employees regarding the provisions of the Ordinance, develop and issue appropriate company policies and also review their recruitment practices.