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LCQ12: Productivity assessment mechanism under Minimum Wage Ordinance

     Following is a question by the Hon Pan Pey-chyou and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (November 9):

Question :

     Regarding the implementation of the productivity assessment (assessment) mechanism for persons with disabilities under the statutory minimum wage (SMW) regime, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of employees with disabilities (EWDs) who have completed the assessment since the implementation of the SMW regime on May 1, 2011, and the percentage of such employees in the total number of EWDs, with a breakdown by month;

(b) of the distribution of EWDs who have completed the assessment among sectors; the results of their assessment; and the changes in their wage levels before and after implementation of the SMW regime;

(c) whether any employer or EWD has requested for re-assessment due to unsatisfactory assessment results; if so, of the details;

(d) whether any EWD has been assessed for more than once; if so, of the reasons for that;

(e) whether the authorities have investigated and examined the reasons why some EWDs refuse to participate in the assessment; if they have, of the details; if not, whether they have plans to conduct such an investigation; of the means and incentives through which the authorities encourage more EWDs to participate in the assessment; and

(f) as I have learnt that quite a number of EWDs are uninterested in participating in the assessment, whether the authorities have considered reviewing the situation as soon as possible; if they have, of the timetable and details; if not, the reasons for that?



     My reply to each part of the question raised by the Hon Pan Pey-chyou is set out below:

(a) Since the implementation of statutory minimum wage (SMW) on May 1 and up to October 31, 2011, a total of 142 employees with disabilities have undergone productivity assessment (assessment) under the Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO), with monthly breakdown as follows:

                 No. of employees with
                 disabilities who have
    Month        undergone assessment
    -----        ---------------------
   May 2011               10
   June                   36
   July                   33
   August                 26
   September              13
   October                24
   Total:                142

     According to the Special Topics Report No.48: Persons with disabilities and chronic diseases published by the Census and Statistics Department in December 2008, there were about 41 000 employed persons aged 15 and over with disabilities in 2007.  However, since intellectual disability is a very sensitive topic to some respondents, they are unwilling to provide information pertaining to household members with intellectual disability and hence the number of persons with intellectual disability is subject to a certain degree of under-estimation.  Therefore, the above-quoted survey data on employed persons with disabilities does not include persons with intellectual disability.  On the other hand, among the employees with disabilities who have undergone assessment, over half of them are persons with intellectual disability.  In view of the above, we consider it not appropriate to make a direct comparison between the number of employees with disabilities who have undergone assessment and the survey data on employed persons with disabilities quoted above as this could be misleading.

(b) The distribution of employees with disabilities who have undergone assessment by industry is as follows:

                            No. of employees with
                            disabilities who have
    Industry                undergone assessment
    --------                ---------------------
    Manufacturing                    16

    Wholesale, retail and
    import/export trades,
    restaurants and hotels           56

    Transport, storage and
    communications                    1

    Financing, insurance,
    real estate and
    business services                21

    Community, social and
    personal services                44

    Others                            4

    Total:                          142

     Among the 142 employees with disabilities who have undergone assessment, about 80% were assessed to have productivity of between 100% and 60%.  The wage levels of employees with disabilities after the assessment were in general higher than those before the implementation of the MWO.

(c) The Labour Department has not received any request for re-assessment from employers or employees with disabilities because of dissatisfaction over assessment results.  According to section 6(6) of Schedule 2 to the MWO, a person with disabilities in respect of whom an assessment of his or her degree of productivity has been completed cannot have any further assessment made for the same work with the same employer.

(d) No employee with disabilities has been assessed more than once since the implementation of the MWO.

(e) and (f) SMW applies to employees with disabilities and able-bodied employees alike.  For persons with disabilities who do not elect to undergo assessment, their employers must pay them at not lower than the SMW rate (ie $28 per hour) in accordance with the MWO.

     As gathered from relevant organisations, recently employed employees with disabilities were mostly remunerated at or above the SMW rate and therefore needed not undergo assessment.  For those serving employees with disabilities who have opted before the implementation of SMW for the transitional arrangement in accordance with the MWO to retain their contractual wage below the SMW level, they may choose to invoke the assessment at any time having regard to individual circumstances and needs.

     The provision of an optional assessment mechanism under the MWO for persons with disabilities seeks to address public concern over the possible employment difficulties of persons with disabilities upon implementation of SMW.  The relatively small number of persons with disabilities choosing to undergo assessments reflects that the need for persons with disabilities to undergo assessment because of employment difficulties is not prevalent at present.

     The special arrangement for persons with disabilities provided under the SMW regime is the fruit of prolonged discussions between the Administration and stakeholders (including persons with disabilities, parent groups, rehabilitation organisations, employers of persons with disabilities etc).  The Labour Department will review the assessment mechanism of persons with disabilities in the light of operational experience within two years after the implementation of SMW.

Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:36


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