The Legislative Council of Hong Kong has approved a government proposal to increase the number of statutory holidays under the Employment Ordinance from 12 to 17 by 2030. Previously, employers were only legally required to grant employees 12 statutory holidays, with discretion as to whether to grant employees an additional 5 general holiday days.
Under the plan laid out in the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2021, the first additional statutory holiday will be designated in 2022 and the alignment of the number of statutory holidays and general holidays will be achieved by 2030 on a phased basis with one additional statutory holiday being added every two years.
The five new statutory holidays are:
- the Birthday of Buddha, being the eighth day of the fourth lunar month (starting from 1 January 2022);
- the first weekday after Christmas Day (starting from 1 January 2024);
- Easter Monday (starting from 1 January 2026);
- Good Friday (starting from 1 January 2028); and
- the day following Good Friday (starting from 1 January 2030).
What steps do employers need to take?
- Employers should review and update their employment contracts, employee handbook and relevant holiday policies as the implementation date of 1 January approaches to reflect the changes in statutory holidays.
- Employer should note that an employee having been employed under a continuous contract for not less than 3 months is entitled to pay on statutory holidays. The daily rate of statutory holiday pay is a sum equivalent to the average daily wages earned by an employee in the 12-month period preceding the day of the statutory holiday or the first day of the statutory holidays (if more than 1 consecutive statutory holiday). Employers should update their internal HR system from 1 January 2022 (and every 2 years thereafter) to ensure that employees are granted the additional statutory holidays as they are introduced and that they receive the correct rate of pay for those days.
- An employer can require an employee to work on statutory holidays with at least 48 hours’ prior notice. The employer must then arrange an alternative holiday within 60 days before or after the statutory holiday. If the employer and employee agree, any day within 30 days of the statutory or alternative holiday may be taken by the employee as a substitute holiday. Employers should review operational arrangements to ensure their compliance with the law.