Hong Kong eases “continuous contracts” criteria

The minimum weekly work hours has been reduced from 72 to 68 and is set to benefit more than 10,000 employees across the city.
By: | February 6, 2024

In a move applauded by employees and employers, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government advisory body has approved a proposal to redefine “continuous contracts”, lowering the minimum working hours required from 72 to 68 in four consecutive weeks.

The Labour Advisory Board estimated that over 10,000 employees stand to benefit, resulting in an additional expenditure of HK$150 million (US$19.2 million) for organisations across the city. Pending approval from the city’s legislature, this shift aligns with Chief Executive John Lee’s commitment to support local employees, expressed in his 2023 Policy Address.

Under the existing regulations, full-time or part-time employees who dedicate 18 hours a week to the same employer for four weeks or more are considered under a “continuous contract”, making them eligible for statutory holiday pay, paid annual leave, sickness allowance, and other benefits. The proposed change drops the weekly 18-hour requirement, settling on 68 hours of employment over four weeks.

The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) welcomed the move, anticipating benefits for part-time employees and increased job market participation. The federation estimated that around 200,000 employees currently not under “continuous contract” will gain from this revision.

READ MORE: Employees in Hong Kong seek flexibility in their work arrangements

Lam Wai-kong, Vice-Chairman of the FTU, representing employees on the board, expressed his support for the change, hoping it would increase labour force participation and draw more women and middle-aged individuals back into the workforce. However, he cautioned that some employers might attempt to cut corners.

Ricky Chan, Executive Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries representing employers on the board, expressed optimism that the revision could help alleviate the labour shortage faced by many of the city’s industries. He acknowledged that the changes would require business owners to invest more in part-time employees and urged the government to boost the economy promptly, emphasising a favourable economic outlook would support employers in expanding recruitment, reported China Daily.