Hong Kong to Extend Statutory Benefits and Protections to More Workers

Hong Kong is poised for changes to its employment legislation, aimed at enhancing entitlements and protections for a broader range of employees, particularly those employed as part-time or casual workers.

All employees covered by the Employment Ordinance, irrespective of how many hours they work, are entitled to basic protections such as payment of wages and restrictions on deductions from wages.

However, employees who are employed under a "continuous contract" are entitled to additional employment benefits under the Employment Ordinance, subject to them working for specified periods. These benefits include, for example, rest days, paid sick leave, statutory holiday pay, paid annual leave, rest days, maternity leave, paternity leave, severance pay, long service pay and various termination protections.

To be considered as working under a “continuous contract”, an individual must have been employed by the same employer for at least four weeks, working at least 18 hours per week (commonly referred to as the “418 rule”).

On 1 February 2024, the Labour Advisory Board, comprising representatives of the Labour Department, employees and employers, reached a consensus on a relaxation of the 418 rule. Under the new requirement, employees will be deemed to be under a continuous contract if they have worked for at least 68 hours within four consecutive weeks for the same employer. This amendment will potentially provide greater labour protections for part-time or casual employees who typically work shorter hours.

In response to this decision, a Bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council to amend the Employment Ordinance. Meanwhile, employers are advised to evaluate the legal and financial implications that this proposed amendment may have on their workforce structure and payroll obligations.

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