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LCQ9: Continuous contract

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (March 16):


     In reply to a question asked by a Member of this Council in November 2010, the Government indicated that a survey on employees not employed under a "continuous contract" was expected to be completed by the end of 2010, and the Labour Department would review the relevant provisions of the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) upon completion of the survey. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the details of the findings of the aforesaid survey;

(b) why the findings of the aforesaid survey have not yet been published;

(c) when the authorities will review the meaning of "continuous contract" under the Employment Ordinance, and in what way they will consult members of the public; and

(d) whether the authorities will make reference to those provisions in the 1997 Directive on Part-Time Work adopted and promulgated by the European Council on the protection of "part-time workers" against discrimination, and formulate measures to provide similar protection to Hong Kong employees not employed under a "continuous contract"; if not, of the reasons for that?



     The Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) (EO) accords protection to all employees, irrespective of their duration of employment and hours of work per week, in areas such as payment of wages, restriction on deductions from wages, entitlement to statutory holidays and protection against anti-union discrimination, etc. On the other hand, subject to meeting certain requirements as specified in the EO, employees engaged under a "continuous contract" are further entitled to other employment benefits, such as rest days, paid statutory holidays and annual leave, sickness allowance, severance payment and long service payment, etc. Under the EO, an employee engaged under a "continuous contract" is defined as one who has been employed under a contract of employment by the same employer for four weeks or more and has worked for 18 hours or more each week.

(a) To facilitate the review of the continuous employment requirements under the EO, the Labour Department (LD) has further commissioned the Census and Statistics Department to collect statistical data of employees who are not engaged under a "continuous contract", including, inter alia, their distribution and proportion in the labour market, as well as the industries and occupations to which they belong. The survey commenced in the fourth quarter of 2009 and the compilation of preliminary findings was completed at the end of 2010. The data collected are being analysed and studied by LD for use by the review.

(b) We are analysing and studying the data collected from the above mentioned survey, which will serve as a reference for our review on continuous employment under the EO. Although the compilation and analysis of the data is time consuming, we will complete the task and publish the relevant findings as soon as practicable.

(c) Our review on continuous employment is now underway. Since "continuous contract" is the basis upon which employers are required to provide various employment benefits to their employees under the EO, any change in this regard will have far-reaching implications on the labour market and the community as a whole.  As such, before deciding whether changes need to be made, the Government must conduct an in-depth study of the subject and consult relevant bodies, including the Labour Advisory Board and the Panel on Manpower of the Legislative Council, etc.

(d) In conducting the review on continuous employment, we will make reference to relevant laws and regulations, measures and experiences of other places, including European countries, and study the issue thoroughly and prudently with due regard to Hong Kong's own circumstances. In line with the Government's well established principle of labour policy, we endeavour to ensure that the statutory protection accorded to employees keeps pace with Hong Kong's changing social circumstances and economic development and strikes an appropriate balance between the interests of employees and the affordability of employers.

Ends/Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 11:16


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