LCQ19: Statutory holiday arrangement

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Yuk-man and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (October 27) :


     After visiting a lunar new year fair in Sha Tin on February 13, 2010, the Chief Executive indicated that he was aware that a holiday on Saturday had been arranged to substitute the Lunar New Year's Day holiday of this year, which in effect rendered some members of the public losing one day's holiday, and in order to keep the legislation abreast of the times, the Government was considering amending the legislation to give the substitution of holidays greater flexibility. In addition, some trade union representatives have requested the Government to increase the number of "labour holidays". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that among the general holidays for 2011 promulgated by the Government, the first day of January, the third day of the Lunar New Year, the day following Good Friday and the National Day overlap with a weekend, and the situation of the public losing holidays has not been improved, whether it has assessed if such an arrangement is contradictory to the improvement being considered by the Chief Executive;

(b) given that Monday, October 1, 2012 happens to fall on the 16th day of August on the Chinese lunar calendar, ie the National Day overlapping with the day following Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, whether the authorities will designate October 2, 2012 as an additional general holiday; and

(c) given that the employees of banks, educational establishments, public offices and government departments are entitled to 17 days of "general holidays" every year under the General Holidays Ordinance (Cap. 149) but employees other than those of the aforesaid organisations are entitled to only 12 days of statutory holidays with pay, commonly referred to as "labour holidays" under the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57), whether the authorities will consider aligning the "labour holidays" with the "general holidays" so that workers are also entitled to 17 days of statutory holidays?

Reply :


(a) General holidays, as provided for by the General Holidays Ordinance (GHO) (Cap. 149), are days kept as holidays by all banks, educational establishments, public offices and government departments. There are currently 17 general holidays in a year in addition to Sundays. The Schedule of GHO stipulates the arrangements of designating an additional general holiday when a general holiday falls on a Sunday.

     Earlier this year, the Chief Executive undertook to review the present arrangement whereby in the event that the Lunar New Year Day falls on a Sunday, the day before, ie Saturday, will be designated as the additional general holiday. As this scenario will not occur until 2013, the Labour Department will make use of this interval to conduct a thorough review and consult stakeholders in due course. Nevertheless, as Saturdays are not designated as general holidays under GHO, there is no question of making arrangements for additional general holiday when a general holiday falls on a Saturday.

(b) GHO stipulates that if two general holidays fall on the same day, the next following day that is not itself a general holiday is to be observed as an additional general holiday. In this regard, as the National Day and the day following Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival fall on the same day in 2012, October 2 (Tuesday) will be designated as an additional general holiday.

(c) General holidays are holidays taken by all relevant institutions (ie days on which no service is provided) whereas statutory holidays (or so-called labour holidays) are benefits to which employees are entitled and granted by employers as required under the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) (EO). General holidays and statutory holidays are of different nature and established under different backgrounds. Nonetheless, some employers in both the public and private sectors do, having regard to their own circumstances, offer their employees benefits above the EO requirements by granting leave on general holidays in addition to statutory holidays.

     The current stipulation of 12 days of statutory holidays under the EO is a community consensus after extensive consultation. In contemplating improvements of employment benefits, including increasing the number of statutory holidays, we must strike a reasonable balance between the interests of employers and employees and, in particular, carefully consider and assess the possible impact of the proposed measures on employees' job opportunities and employers' business costs. We also need to secure the consensus of the community at large. The Administration has no plan to introduce amendments in this respect at this stage.

Ends/Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Issued at HKT 16:27