Table of Contents

Hong Kong

Table of Contents

Currency

Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)

Payroll Frequency

Monthly

Employer Taxes

5% or 1500 HKD

About Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a former British colony located on the southeastern edge of China. It is a highly populated country with a vibrant urban center containing many skyscrapers and architectural designs such as the Bank of China tower. The country is also considered a desirable shopping destination with many high quality and reasonably priced purveyors of luxury goods and clothing. Its political climate has recently been rendered unstable since separation from Britain, due to constant protests from its citizens over the influence on China on its political system. Hong Kong operates under Chinese rule where the government of China ostensibly provides the region independence over its resources in order to create its own economic and social systems but continues to attempt control under mainland central authority. Cantonese is the most widely used language in the country, but Mandarin and English are also widely spoken. Hong Kong’s diverse culture is a combination of East and West and the people are considered very open-minded, especially to other cultures. Religions practiced include Taoism, Buddhism, and Christianity.

Employment Relationship

• Permanent Employment

Hong Kong's employment ordinance stipulates that every contract of employment, which is a continuous contract, shall, in the absence of any express agreement to the contrary, be deemed to be a contract for one month renewable on a monthly basis. An employee is considered to be permanent when he or she has worked for at least 18 hours a week for four weeks with an employer. In addition to basic benefits protection, employees under a continuous contract are entitled to benefits such as rest days, paid annual leave, sickness allowance, severance payments, and long service payments. In disputes over whether a contract is continuous or not, the burden of proof will be on the employer.

• Fixed-Term or Specific-Purpose Contracts

In Hong Kong, every contract of employment is deemed to be a contract for 1 month and renewable from month to month, unless there is an agreement between the employer and employee that states otherwise. The Employment Ordinance allows hiring fixed-term contract workers for tasks of permanent nature, where the contract automatically terminates at the end of the term with no required notice period. Employees under fixed-term contracts are not eligible for long service payments.

• Temporary Employment Contratcs

The Employment Ordinance does not differentiate between “temporary,” “part-time,” “substituted,” “permanent,” and “full-time” employees. All employees covered by the Employment Ordinance, irrespective of their designated job titles or working hours, are entitled to statutory rights and protections such as minimum wage payment, restriction on deductions from wages, entitlement to statutory holidays, etc. An employee who has been working continuously for the same employer for 4 weeks or more, with at least 18 hours worked in each week, is further entitled to rights such as rest days, annual leave with pay and sickness allowance, to name a few.

Probationary Period

According to the Employment Ordinance of Hong Kong, an employment contract can include a probationary period. There is no statutory limit on the duration of probation. If an employee is on probation and the contract does not make provision for the length of notice required for its termination, such agreement can be terminated by either party at any time during the first month of such employment without notice or payment in lieu, and by giving a notice period of 7 days after the first month. If the contract includes a notice period clause, it can still be terminated without notice during the first month. After the first month, it can be terminated with the determined notice period.

Working Hours

The labor code of Hong Kong does not define standard working hours. An employee who has worked for at least 18 hours per week for 4 weeks for the same employer is considered to be employed under a continuous employment contract. The law does limit the number of working hours to 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week for young persons between the age of 15 and 18 years. An employee under a continuous employment contract is entitled to at least 1 rest day every 7 days. A rest day is defined as a continuous period of at least 24 hours during which an employee is entitled to abstain from working.

Holidays / PTO

• Statutory Holidays

An employee, regardless of the length of service, is entitled to the following statutory holidays: New Year – January 1 Lunar New Year’s Day – date subject to change every year Second and third days of Lunar New Year – dates subject to change every year Ching Ming Festival – date subject to change every year Good Friday – date subject to change every year Day after Good Friday – date subject to change every year Easter Monday – date subject to change every year Labor Day – May 1 Birthday of the Buddha – date subject to change every year Tuen Ng Festival – date subject to change every year Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day – July 1 National Day – October 1 The day following the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival – date subject to change every year Chung Yeung Festival – date subject to change every year Christmas Day – December 1 The first weekday after Christmas – date subject to change every year If any of the holidays fall on a Sunday, the next day is declared a holiday.

• Paid Annual Leave

Employees who have worked under a continuous contract of at least 12 months are entitled to annual leave. An employee's entitlement to paid annual leave increases progressively from 7 days to a maximum of 14 days according to the length of service. Employers are required to pay the annual leave pay to the employee on the day of the next payday after the annual leave period. The payment is equal to 100% of the daily average wages of the employee in the 12 months before the start of the annual leave. The law generally prohibits remuneration in lieu of the annual leave; however, an employee may choose to accept payment in lieu of the part of leave that exceeds 10 days.

• Sick Leave

The labor code of Hong Kong requires employers to provide a sickness allowance to an employee who has worked under a continuous employment contract for 1 month. The benefits accrue as follows: 2 paid sick days for each completed month of employment under continuous agreement during the first 12 months of employment 4 paid sick days per month after the first 12 months The daily rate of sickness allowance is a sum equivalent to 80% of the average daily wages earned by an employee during 12 months preceding the first day of sick leave. For employment of under 12 months, the calculation is based on the shorter period. Sickness allowance is to be paid to the employee not later than the usual payday.

• Maternity Leave

Female employees who have been working under a continuous contract immediately before the commencement of the maternity leave and have given notice of pregnancy (and the upcoming maternity leave) to the employer, are entitled to the following periods of leave: A continuous period of 14 weeks' maternity leave If delivery occurs past the expected date, the number of days from the day after the expected delivery date to the actual date of delivery is added An additional period of leave for up to 4 weeks on the grounds of illness or disability due to pregnancy or birth Maternity leave is paid for 14 weeks on the typical payday of the employee. The daily rate of maternity leave benefit is a sum equivalent to 80% of the average daily wages earned by an employee in the 12 months preceding the first day of maternity leave, subject to a cap of HKD 80,000 (Hong Kong dollars). For employment under 12 months, the calculation shall be based on a shorter period.

• Paternity Leave

Employees are entitled to a paternity leave of 5 days during the period that starts 4 weeks before the expected delivery date and runs 10 weeks after it. They must be the father or father-to-be of the child. They must have been employed under a continuous contract for at least 4 weeks and are required to notify the employer of the paternity leave at least 3 months before the expected delivery date.  The daily rate of paternity leave benefit is a sum equivalent to 80% of the average daily wages earned by an employee in the 12 months preceding the day of paternity leave. For the employment period under 12 months, the calculation of the benefit is based on the shorter period.

Termination of Employment

• Notice Period

An employee or an employer can terminate the employment contract by giving notice to the other party verbally or in writing. The length of the notice period is as follows: For employment contracts renewable from month to month, the notice period is to be at least 1 month. In other cases, the notice period would be the one that is agreed to in the employment contract (cannot be under 7 days). Employment contract can be terminated without giving notice by making a payment equal to the wages for the number of days of notice agreed upon. An employer can summarily dismiss an employee without notice or payment in lieu of notice in case of gross misconduct. However, an employee taking part in a strike is not a lawful ground for an employer to terminate the contract without notice or payment in lieu.

• Severance Benefits

Employees are eligible for severance pay if they have been employed for at least 24 months and are either dismissed by the employer due to economic redundancy or laid off as the employer is not able to provide work for at least half of the total regular working hours for a period of 4 consecutive weeks. The amount of severance pay is calculated as follows for every year of employment: For a monthly-paid employee, the benefit is equal to two-thirds of the last full month’s salary or HKD 22,500, whichever is lower. For other employees, the severance pay is equal to 18 days of wages based on any 18 days chosen by the employee and occurring during the last 30 regular working days, or two-thirds of HKD 22,500, whichever is lower. There is no entitlement to severance benefits if the dismissal is based on employee conduct. Severance pay is not issued if the employer has offered to renew the employment contract at least 7 days before the contract termination date, but the employee has refused the offer unreasonably.