Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It has a devolved legislature, executive and judiciary, including its own separate employment legislation and labour courts.

The key item of employment legislation is the Employment Ordinance, which applies to almost all employees (with some exceptions such as seafarers and certain employees in family businesses). The Ordinance covers matters such as employment contracts, probationary periods, information on employment conditions, payment of wages, deductions from wages, public holidays, trade union rights, prohibition of dismissal on certain grounds and some other aspects of termination. However, the Ordinance restricts certain of its entitlements to employees with “continuous contracts”, ie those who have at least four weeks’ service and work at least 18 hours per week (see Types of Contract). Notably, only these employees have statutory rights in relation to rest days, annual leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, sick leave, pay on public holidays, severance payments, long-service payments, end-of-year payments and protection from unreasonable dismissal.

Other significant laws include the Minimum Wages Ordinance, Sex Discrimination Ordinance, Race Discrimination Ordinance, Disability Discrimination Ordinance, Family Status Discrimination Ordinance, Trade Unions Ordinance, Labour Relations Ordinance, Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance, Apprenticeship Ordinance and Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. Case law interprets all the legislation relevant to employment. Employment contracts also play an important part in governing the employment relationship (collective agreements are rare and have only a very minor role).

This article refers to employment law in the private sector only.

Temporary Covid-19 Crisis Measures (as at 8 July 2020)

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has not taken any specific measures in relation to employment law. The Labour Department has issued guidance on employers’ and employees’ relevant rights and obligations under existing employment legislation, and encouraged the use of remote working and flexibility in working hours and leave. The Government is operating an employment support scheme over June–November 2020 which provides wage subsidies to employers that do not reduce their workforce. The subsidy amounts to 50% of an employee’s wages, up to a cap.

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