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Employment Law

Individual rights of employees in Hong Kong are governed by the Employment Ordinance. Employment law is a wide area of law, covering mainly matters within the workplace but also extends matters outside of the workplace.

A contract of employment should exist between an employee and an employer. If such contract does not exist the courts may feel that it is necessary to ‘imply’ that a contract existed. The employment law governing this area is also complicated in relation to agency workers. It is possible for the courts to imply a contract where the relationship between the worker and the company satisfies certain criteria.

As an employee, you have certain statutory rights. These may include rest days, annual leave, sick leave and maternity leave etc. For example, an employee who is employed under a continuous contract is entitled to not less than one rest day over a period of seven days. An employee is therefore entitled to rest days and statutory holidays. If you feel that you have not been paid for a sick day, not given enough maternity leave or not have been discriminated against because of a disability please seek advice. Similarly you may have questions relating to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF). You may want to check whether any of these principles applies to you.

Please note that under the Minimum Wage Ordinance (Cap 608) that came into force on May 2011 implemented a new statutory minimum wage. This amount currently stands at $28 an hour. It applies to monthly, daily, permanent, casual, full-time or part-time. If you feel that you are being underpaid and this provision applies to you, we would advise you to seek advice. Alternatively, visit our free of forum where you can speak to other hongkonglaw.com members.

Employment Law in Hong Kong

Employment law is a covers a wide range of topics. These include and are not limited to, matters concerning the employment contract, discrimination at work (including race, sexual and age discrimination), unequal pay, harassment at work, unlawful deduction of wages, mobility clauses (including your place of work), pregnancy leave, statutory holidays, minimum wage, health and safety, rights at work, references, and the dismissal and termination of employment. 

Employees should be entitled to a contract of employment which should specify your rights. Your employment contract cannot take away rights that have been conferred by law. 

The Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board (MECAB) set up under the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board Ordinance deals with minor employment claims. MECAB is empowered to adjudicate employment claims involving not more than 10 claimants for a sum of money not exceeding HK$8,000 per claimant. The Labour Tribunal deals with all other employment disputes. 

The employer is entitled to dismiss without notice if an employee willfully disobeys lawful or reasonable orders; is guilty of misconduct; is guilty of fraud, dishonesty or negligence of duties. Damages for the wrongful termination of contract is the amount of wages that would have accrued during period of notice. The employee may also terminate without notice on grounds including fear of physical danger; being permanently unfit and subject to ill-treatment by employer.

An employee under a continuous contract is entitled to:-

  1. End of year payment equal to one month's salary
  2. Sickness allowance
  3. Paid leave for public holidays.

An employee is entitled to severance pay if employed for a continuous period of 24 months or more and is laid off or dismissed by reason of redundancy.

An employer is liable to pay compensation for:-

  1. Personal injury by accident or contraction of occupational disease or
  2. Death arising out of or in course of employment.

The Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) Schemes Ordinance obliges employers and self-employed to set up or join an approved scheme and requires employer and employee to each pay 5% of income into the scheme.

For more information please consult the Employment Law forum. If you feel that you have been exploited or have any unanswered questions, please feel free to post a comment on our forum and we will try our best to get back to you. If we feel that your situations warrants further attention we will advise you to seek independent legal advice.