Hong Kong Employment Law update

1. Record increase in Hong Kong minimum wage

The Executive Council has recently endorsed the biggest increase in the Statutory Minimum Wage (SMW) recommended by the Minimum Wage Commission. It is estimated that the increase in SMW from HK$34.5 per hour to HK$37.5 per hour will benefit 75,500 low-paid employees. 

The Minimum Wage Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 3) Notice 2019 will be published in the Government Gazette on 18 January and introduced into the Legislative Council on 23 January. Subject to the approval of the Legislative Council, the revised SMW will take effect on 1 May 2019.

According to the Minimum Wage Ordinance (Cap. 608), the Minimum Wage Commission must report to the government its recommendation about the amount of the prescribed minimum hourly wage rate at least once every two years. The next review of the SMW will be no later than 2021.  

Under the current Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57), if SMW applies to an employee and the wages payable in a wage period are less than $14,100 per month, the wage and employment records kept by an employer should include the total number of hours worked by such employee in that wage period. In consequence of the increase in SMW, the Employment Ordinance (Amendment of Ninth Schedule) Notice 2019 will also be gazetted on 18 January and come into force on 1 May 2019 to amend the monthly monetary cap from HK$14,100 to HK$15,300 simultaneously.  

2. Notification requirements relating to paternity leave 

The Employment (Amendment) (No.3) Ordinance 2018 (Amendment Ordinance) will come into effect on 18 January 2019. The Amendment Ordinance seeks to increase the statutory paternity leave for male employees with a child born on or after 18 January from 3 days to 5 days. 

To qualify for paternity leave, a male employee who intends to take paternity leave must notify his employer:

  • of his intention at least 3 months before the expected date of the delivery of the child; and
  • the intended date of his leave before taking the leave

If an employee has already given the three months’ notice, he may take paternity leave immediately after informing his employer of the actual dates of leave. If an employee fails to give his employer the three months’ prior notice, he must notify his employer of each intended date of his paternity leave at least 5 days before that date.

Transitional period 

For an employee with a child born on or after 18 January 2019, if he has notified his employer of his intention to take paternity leave before the commencement of the Amendment Ordinance (i.e. the first three days of the paternity leave), before taking the newly increased fourth and fifth days (Extended Leave), he must give at least 5 days’ prior notice to his employer of the actual dates of Extended Leave. 

Comment 

In view of the changes, employers and HR professionals should pay attention to the effective date of these policies and implement the new arrangements accordingly.