The Employment Ordinance, as well as various other Hong Kong regulations, provides for the following minimum rights and protections for Hong Kong employees having a valid contract of employment in Hong Kong. Your employment contract may of course provide for additional benefits above that statutory minimum – however, these contractual benefits are often worded in unclear terms. Speak to us to see how we can help you enforce both your statutory and contractual rights.
- Minimum wage – The Minimum Wage Ordinance provides for a minimum level of wages payable to all Hong Kong employees. The minimum wage applies to all employees – permanent, casual, part-time and full-time, and whether you are paid monthly, daily or hourly – provided you are an employee protected by the Employment Ordinance (note that there are exceptions). Your employer cannot exclude their liability to pay you at least your minimum wage. The Ordinance provides that wages paid to an employee in any wage period shall not be less than the prevailing Statutory Minimum Wage rate (which is subject to revision from time to time) for the same period. However, the difficulty and source of dispute is often in calculating the hours worked in a wage period (e.g. do breaks and rest days count?) – this is where we can provide you with clarity. If it turns out you have been paid less than the minimum wage, we can help you recover the difference.
- Rest days and holidays – The Employment Ordinance guarantees your right to one rest day in every period of seven days, as well as your right to public holidays (also known as statutory holidays)
- Pensions – The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance imposes an obligation on every employer and employee in Hong Kong to each contribute at least 5% of the wages of that employee (capped at a maximum of HK$20,000 per month) to a registered retirement scheme (i.e. an MPF scheme).
- Maternity leave / Paternity leave – Female employees are entitled to at least 10 weeks of paid maternity leave of ten weeks (or as provided by the employer, if the employer provides for more favourable terms). During maternity leave, pay is calculated at the rate of 4/5ths of the average daily wage during the immediately preceding year. Male employees are entitled to 3 days of paid paternity leave. Like maternity leave pay, paternity leave pay is calculated at a daily rate at the rate of 4/5ths of the average daily wage during the immediately preceding year. Entitlement to maternity leave and paternity leave will generally depend on whether the employee has worked for at least 40 weeks continuously prior to taking such leave. While paternity leave is relatively simple to calculate, maternity leave is much more difficult and employers tend to minimise their liability in this respect as much as possible – we can assist you in fighting for your maternity leave and pay entitlements.
- Annual leave (and payment in lieu of leave) – Employees are entitled to a minimum amount of annual leave for each year of employment. The minimum amount of annual leave will depend on the length of employment with your employer, ranging from 7 days of annual leave (if you have been employed for more than one year, but less than three years) and 14 days (if you have been employed for more than nine years). However, an employer may choose to give you additional days of annual leave at their discretion in accordance with your employment contract. During your annual leave, your daily wage is calculated as your average wage over the last year. Employees may choose to receive payment instead of taking holidays (i.e. payment in lieu). Employees are also allowed to rollover any unused statutory annual leave from the past 12 months – however, contractual annual leave is subject to your terms of employment. This is where we can help.
- Sick leave – Employees are statutorily entitled to paid sick leave, with two days of paid sick leave accrued for each month of employment (during your first year of employment) and four days of paid sick leave during each subsequent year. The maximum amount of paid sick leave you may accrue is 120 days. During your sick leave, you are entitled to be paid at 4/5ths of your average daily wage over the last year. Strictly speaking, the Employemt Ordinance provides that employers may withhold sickness pay for any sick leave period of less than four days. As such, sick leave is often contractually supplemented in the employment contract.
- Severance pay – If you have been employed for two years, you are entitled to severance pay if you are laid off or made redundant. Severance is generally calculated at 2/3rds of your monthly pay, multiplied by the number of years of your employment. The Employment Ordinance provides for minimum and maximum severance amounts (which are subject to change from time to time). Employers may treat any MPF contributions they have made for you in the past as part of your severance payment (i.e. employer’s MPF contributions are deducted from your severance payout). Difficulties often arise in calculating the correct severance figure – we can assist you with calculating the correct amount you should be getting.
- Long service pay – Employees who have been employed continuously for at least five years are entitled to long service pay on dismissal. The calculation is the same as the calculation for severance pay, and as such, is subject to minimum and maximum thresholds, as well as being subject to deduction for an employer’s MPF contributions.