This article gives a short summary of recent changes in Hong Kong employment law.

Statutory Minimum Wage Rate

On 1 May 2013, the Statutory Minimum Wage increased from HKD 28 per hour to HKD 30 per hour. In line with this increase, employers now only need to keep records of the hours worked by their employees in a wage period where the wages payable amount to less than HKD 12,300 per month. Prior to 1 May 2013 the monthly monetary cap was HKD 11,500.

Employers are reminded that that payment made to the employee for time that is not hours worked (e.g. rest day pay, holiday pay, annual leave pay, maternity leave pay, sickness allowance, etc.) is excluded from the calculation of wages payable in respect of a wage period. Therefore, when assessing whether the wages payable to an employee are equal to or above the monthly monetary cap, these payments, where applicable, should also be excluded.

Statutory Paternity Leave

The Secretary for Labour and Welfare at a special meeting of the Finance Committee in LegCo held on 11 April 2013 stated that the Government is in the midst of formulating the details of a proposal to legislate for the provision of paternity leave. The proposed statutory paternity leave will be for the duration of 3 days. The employee will be entitled to be paid 80% of his average daily wage. This is the same rate as statutory maternity leave. There is no marriage requirement for the employee to be eligible to take paternity leave. Further, there will be no restrictions on the birthplace of the newborn. To be entitled to paid paternity leave the employee must have been employed under a continuous contract and have worked for 40 weeks or more immediately before the commencement of the paternity leave. The employee will be able to take paternity leave at any time during the period from four weeks before the expected date of birth to ten weeks after the actual date of the birth. The employee may elect to take all 3 days together or to take the leave on 3 separate days. The employee will need to inform his employer of his partner’s pregnancy and the expected date of birth at least three months in advance and to give at least two days prior notice before taking paternity leave. The birth registration record will be proof of the father-child relationship. It is envisaged that the employer may allow the employee to take paternity leave first and be allowed to pay the employee paternity leave pay only after he has produced proof of the father-child relationship. In the event that no proof is produced by the employee within three months after the date of birth, the employer is entitled to deduct the amount paid for the paternity leave from the employee’s wages.

Standard Working Hours

A Special Committee on Standard Working Hours was set up on 9 April 2013. The Committee is made up of representatives of labour unions, employers’ associations, academics, community leaders and government officials. The Committee has been tasked with considering the viability of legislation on standard working hours within the territory. The formation of the Committee follows up on the Labour Department’s policy study on standard working hours which was conducted in November of last year.