Companies unfamiliar with employment laws in Hong Kong face potential liability. Knowing workers’ rights, the correct type of contract for your work relationship, and when a company can lawfully end an employee’s job are all essential steps to protecting yourself in this ever-changing legal landscape.
1. The Employment Contract
In Hong Kong, employment contracts can be agreed to for an indefinite period or a set timeline.
If no length of the agreement is stipulated in the contract itself, it will, by default, last one month and automatically renew each subsequent month after four weeks have been completed if you work at least 18 hours per week during that stretch.
Contracts can be written down; however, most employers prefer this approach when forming employee agreements.
Probationary periods are also used as a common practice, which usually consists of between three and six months. Still, either party may end the arrangement before completion without prior notification from the employer.
2. Working Time
Working hours may be flexible, but employees are still entitled to essential benefits, including holiday leave and at least one rest day a week. By law, everyone is guaranteed the right to take time off for some well-deserved relaxation!
Hong Kong is a great place to work with plenty of employee benefits, including paid annual leave for continuous employees who have worked for at least one year. The longer you stay in the workforce, the more days off you enjoy!
In addition, every employee can benefit from 12 statutory holidays and receive up to 10 weeks of paid maternity leave (for females) or five days’ paternity leave if they meet specific eligibility criteria – such as being employed on an ongoing basis.
There’s also a ‘sickness allowance,’ amounting to 120 days per worker each year.
4. Pay and Social Security
On May 1, 2019, Hong Kong’s minimum wage rate rose to HKD 37.50 (approximately USD 4.78) per hour.
Payment of taxes in the area remains the responsibility of those earning wages and salaries and employers do not have any legal obligation to withhold tax through payroll systems. Employers are expected to enroll new hires into Mandatory Provident Fund plans within 60 days or face possible fines.
This pension fund requires contributions from both employer and employee– at least 5% up until an annual cap set at HKD 1,500 (USD 191).
5. Terminating Employment
It’s generally straightforward for employers to terminate an employment contract in Hong Kong, with exceptions.
Notice periods may range from one week to four weeks, depending on when a person has been employed.
A ‘summary dismissal’- let go without notice- is possible only under certain conditions and if it meets strict legal criteria.
For employees who have worked continuously for two years or more, options are available against their employer should they be unjustly dismissed without good reason/cause by law standards.
Valid reasons for termination include:
- A layoff
- Lack of required qualifications
Although Hong Kong has many different laws regarding employment, the most important ones are those that protect workers from discrimination and harassment.
These laws help ensure that everyone is treated fairly in the workplace and provide a way for people to file complaints if they feel they have been mistreated.
If you think you have been the victim of Discrimination or harassment at work, you should contact the Equal Opportunities Commission to file a complaint.