The Legislative Council rejected a motion to introduce a bill within this legislative session on the regulation of working hours including the number of standard weekly working hours and overtime pay.

The Legislative Council debated the motion for almost six hours but ultimately came to the view that it is too early to discuss the drafting of regulated working hours and its legislative timetable. The view was taken that such a policy will be complex and building consensus is paramount to it being successfully introduced. It was considered that lengthy preparation would be required in addition to an analysis of the various sectors and the economic and social situation in Hong Kong.

The Labour Department conducted research on the proposal to regulate working hours and the report was submitted to the Executive Council for consideration. The study examines the systems and experiences of other places in regulating working hours, it encompasses a review of statistics on the latest working hours situation of the working population in various sectors of Hong Kong and also assesses the possible cost impact of introducing standard working hours in Hong Kong. The objective is to provide a platform for an informed and in-depth public discussion on the subject of standard working hours. The report identifies a number of key issues that need to be discussed by employees, employers and the wider community to explore a way forward.

The Chief Executive pledged in his election manifesto to set up a Special Committee comprising government officials, representatives of employers and employees, academics and community leaders to follow up on the policy study. It is expected that the Special Committee will be up and running by the first quarter of next year.

This momentum suggests that some form of legislation to regulate working hours is on the distant horizon, however we do not anticipate seeing a draft bill until at least 2014.