Most Read Contributor in Hong Kong, September 2016
Originally published 10 June 2010
Keywords: Hong Kong employers, late payment,
wages, jail, Employment Ordinance, EO
Employers and directors or responsible persons of companies
could face prosecution and have a jail sentence imposed on them for
late payment of wages in contravention of the Employment Ordinance
("EO"). This is not anything new as the law has been
around for a while. However, two recent prosecutions serve as
timely reminders that individuals behind decisions not to pay wages
or pay them on time could face a jail term!
In a recent case, the directors of an employing company were
sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment after failing to pay wages
amounting to around HK$37,450 to an employee within seven days
after the expiry of wage periods as required by Section 23 of the
In another case, the person-in-charge of the employing company
was given a four months' jail sentence, suspended for 18 months
for failing to pay wages amounting to around HK$177,000 to five
employees within seven days after the termination of employment as
required by Section 25 of the EO. The employer was also ordered to
clear the outstanding wages via the court.
The prosecution was launched by the Labour Department in both
Any employer who, wilfully and without reasonable excuse,
contravenes sections 23 or 25 of the EO commits an offence and is
liable to a maximum fine of HK$350,000 and imprisonment for three
years. Section 64B of the EO stipulates that where any wage payment
offence committed by a body corporate is proved to have been
committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable
to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or
other similar officer of the body corporate, they shall be guilty
of a like offence.
These cases demonstrate that the Labour Department does take
steps to prosecute employers for wage offences and that the courts
are prepared to impose prison sentences for wage offences.
Employers are reminded to ensure that wages are paid to
employees in accordance with the EO. Failure to do so may not only
lead to a fine but may also result in imprisonment of relevant
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This article provides information and comments on legal
issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a
comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not
intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific
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