Topic: Hong Kong

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What rights does an employer have to suspend an employee?

In Hong Kong, employers have a right to suspend employees from employment. 

Under section 11 of the Employment Ordinance, an employer may without notice or payment in lieu suspend any employee from employment for up to 14 days: (a) as a disciplinary measure for any reason for which the employer could have summarily dismissed the employee; (b) pending a decision by the employer as to whether or not it will exercise its right to summarily dismiss the employee; or (c) pending the outcome of any criminal proceedings against the employee arising out of or connected with his or her employment.  … Continue Reading

What rights do employees have to a minimum wage in Hong Kong?

After much heated debate over the years, the Minimum Wage Ordinance (Cap. 608) (“Ordinance”) came into force in Hong Kong on 1 May 2011. Before the implementation of the Ordinance, Hong Kong was one of the few places in the world without any sort of minimum wage law. The Ordinance is undoubtedly a milestone as far as the protection of the rights of employees, particularly low-income workers, in Hong Kong is concerned.… Continue Reading

First Discrimination Law Review in Hong Kong: the implications in an employment context

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has launched its first comprehensive review of the four anti-discrimination ordinances relating to gender, disability, family status and race since they came into force as long ago as the late 1990’s and is seeking opinions from the public on its proposed extension of protection from discrimination.


The review has been prompted by the deficiencies in the current legislation, the changing needs of Hong Kong and international developments on human rights protection.  The current anti-discrimination laws were largely based on the then discrimination laws in the UK and Australia which have been reviewed … Continue Reading

Whistleblowing – what protection do employees have in Hong Kong?

Notwithstanding the growing global trend in the adoption of express whistleblowing laws (e.g. the US, the UK and Japan), the Hong Kong government has not yet shown any sign of following suit.  So, what protection do employees have if they “blow their whistles” on wrongdoers in their workplace?

 Whistleblowing protection under statue/common law

There is currently no legislation offering comprehensive protection to whistle-blowers in private sector employment in Hong Kong. However, employees do have the following protection under certain ordinances and common law:

1 . Employment Ordinance

An employee giving evidence in proceedings or inquiries relating to the enforcement of … Continue Reading

Employees’ rights to holiday in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is often called the city where “East meets West”.  One happy result of this conjunction is that Hong Kong employees become entitled to statutory Chinese and Western holidays.

Under the Employment Ordinance (Chapter 57 of the Laws of Hong Kong) employees in Hong Kong are entitled to 12 statutory holidays per year:

  • The first day of January
  • Lunar New Year
  • Second day of Lunar New Year
  • Third day of Lunar New Year
  • Ching Ming Festival
  • Labour Day
  • Tuen Ng Festival
  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region establishment day: the first day of July
  • The day following Chinese
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Working fathers expect to have paternity leave entitlement in Hong Kong soon

In the absence of mandatory paternity leave, balancing work and family life has been a challenge for working parents with a newborn, or for parents-to-be, in Hong Kong.

Currently, only male government employees are entitled to a 5-day paternity leave on full pay. If a male employee working in the private sector wishes to take time off to care for his newly born child or his spouse, he will have to utilize his annual leave or seek other applicable leave,such as compassionate leave. Male employees may be reluclant to seek such leave for fear of risking their job security or … Continue Reading

Wrongful, unreasonable and unlawful dismissals in Hong Kong

This post was contributed by Marie Kwok, Of Counsel, Norton Rose Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the primary piece of employment legislation is the Employment Ordinance (EO), which sets out the minimum statutory entitlements for employees. The EO is applicable to all employees in Hong Kong, subject to limited exceptions. If an employer dismisses an employee under circumstances which are inconsistent with the EO or the terms of the employment contract, the dismissal may be deemed wrongful.  In addition, if an employee is employed under a continuous contract for four weeks or more, with at least 18 hours worked … Continue Reading

Restrictive covenants in Hong Kong

This post was contributed by Marie Kwok, Of Counsel, and Rebecca Hui, Associate, at Norton Rose Hong Kong

Under Hong Kong law, restrictive covenants (e.g. non-compete and non-solicitation clauses) are prima facie unenforceable as they are restraints of trade and against public policy. However, the Courts have upheld certain restrictive covenants provided that the following requirements are satisfied:

(1)        the covenants serve to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests (such as trade secrets, confidential information of equivalent status and trade connections) whilst being no wider than reasonably necessary to do so;

(2)        the covenants are sufficiently clear and … Continue Reading