The Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced last Tuesday, 14 January 2020 that the government intends to increase the number of Hong Kong statutory holidays from 12 to 17 days.

Statutory Holidays

Currently, an employee, irrespective of his length of service, is entitled to 12 statutory holidays under the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57), namely:-

  1. First day of January;
  2. Lunar New Year's Day;
  3. Second day of Lunar New Year;
  4. Third day of Lunar New Year;
  5. Ching Ming Festival;
  6. Labour Day;
  7. Tuen Ng Festival;
  8. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day;
  9. The day following the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival;
  10. Chung Yeung Festival;
  11. National Day; and
  12. Chinese Winter Solstice Festival or Christmas Day (at the option of the employer).

An employee is entitled to holiday pay for each statutory holiday taken if he or she has been employed under a continuous contract for 3 months or more immediately preceding a statutory holiday. Holiday pay is calculated by reference to the daily average of wages earned during the 12-month period prior to the statutory holiday.

General Holidays

In addition to the statutory holidays, Hong Kong has 5 additional general holidays which must be kept as holidays by all banks, educational establishments, public offices and Government departments (pursuant to the General Holidays Ordinance (Cap. 149) ("GHO")), namely:-

  1. Good Friday;
  2. The day following Good Friday;
  3. Easter Monday;
  4. Christmas Day and
  5. The first weekday after Christmas.  

Whilst the GHO does not require an employer to make payment of holiday pay on these general holidays, in practice, many businesses do grant paid leave to their employees on the general holidays.

In Hong Kong, it is typical that many blue-collar employees only enjoy statutory holidays whilst white-collar workers have the benefit of general holidays. The effect of the government's proposal would be to align statutory holidays with general holidays.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.