On 19 March 2013, the Legislative Council Panel on Manpower
reviewed and discussed a briefing paper submitted by the Labour and
Welfare Bureau of the Labour Department in November 2011. The paper
detailed the results of a special topic enquiry into the status,
numbers, legal employment protections and benefits entitlements of
short duration and short working hours employees ("SDWH
employees"). These are employees who work for short durations
or shorter working hours and whose employment status, therefore,
does not qualify as falling within the definition of
'continuous contract'. The enquiry came about following
calls for a review of SDWH employees' status whose employment
situation is generally regarded as less secure and less protected
than those employees engaged under a continuous contract.
Points of note from the special topic enquiry:
While certain basic legal employment protections apply
universally (e.g., including payment of wages, minimum wage
protection, etc.) certain others do not. For example, only eligible
employees working under a continuous contract are entitled by law
to rest days, paid statutory holidays, annual leave, sickness
allowance and severance and long service entitlements. SDWH
employees are not entitled to these benefits because their
employment does not fall under the broad definition of a continuous
contract. A continuous contract is defined by the Employment
Ordinance and exists broadly where an employee works 18 hours or
more a week in a 4-week period (also known as the "4-18
As of July 2011, there were around 148,300 SDWH employees in
Hong Kong, of whom 50,200 worked more than 18 hours per week in
their current job. Of the 148,300 SDWH workers, some 56,300 usually
worked less than 18 hours per week. Of that 56,300, some 76 percent
The survey of the SDWH employees revealed that despite not
falling under the 4-18 requirement, just over 20 percent were
granted statutory holiday pay, while 24.6 percent were granted paid
annual leave and 4.7 percent an end-of-year payment. Of the 56,300
SDWH employees working less than 18 hours per week, just 10.3
percent received statutory holiday pay, 8.1 percent paid annual
leave and 2.5 percent an end-of-year payment.
With calls to relax the 4-18 requirement under the Employment
Ordinance, it remains to be seen whether the Administration will
propose any such amendments following the results of this special
topic enquiry. As always the interests of both the employees and
employers will be taken into account and views sought accordingly.
Watch this space for further updates and developments.
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