LCQ15:Five-day work week

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


     Regarding the implementation of a five-day work week, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the actual work carried out by the Government in the past to motivate employers to implement a five-day work week;

(b) whether any analysis or survey has been conducted to find out the prevalence of a five-day work week in society; if so, of the result;

(c) whether it knows the reasons why employers are unable to implement a five-day work week and the difficulties encountered;

(d) of the estimated numbers and percentages of employees in Hong Kong who are working on a five-day work week pattern at present, broken down by occupation; and

(e) whether the authorities will set a target for implementing a five-day work week outside the Government?



     My reply to Hon Frederick Fung's question is as follows:

(a) The Labour Department (LD) has all along been encouraging employers to adopt family-friendly employment practices (FFEP). We advise employers to be considerate and accommodating to the needs of employees, taking into account the service nature, size, resources and culture of individual organisations, and implement different types of FFEP with flexibility, such as flexi-hours and five-day work week, so as to assist employees in maintaining a balance between work and family responsibilities.

     Being one of the facilitators in promoting FFEP, LD has since 2006 been publicising the message of five-day work week to employers, human resources practitioners and the general public through various publicity channels and promotional activities, including the network of nine industry-based Tripartite Committees and 18 Human Resources Managers Clubs (HRMCs) formed in various trades and industries; organising large-scale seminars, briefings and sharing sessions; staging roving exhibitions at different locations; broadcasting promotional videos; publishing newspaper supplements and feature articles; as well as distributing educational DVDs and promotional materials, etc.

(b) to (d) LD has conducted questionnaire surveys among member establishments of HRMCs in 2006 and 2010. The survey findings revealed a rising trend of organisations adopting five-day work week, with the percentage of organisations adopting the measure increasing from 36.5% to 61.5% between the two surveys. Given the generally larger size of the member organisations surveyed, the findings might not completely reflect the situation of the overall employment market. Nevertheless, they provided a useful source of reference to facilitate LD in formulating appropriate promotional strategies.

     A Special Topic Enquiry on "Patterns of hours of work of employees" conducted by the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) between January and June 2008 included, among other things, the prevalence of five-day work in respect of employees working in the non-government sector. According to the findings, among the 2 558 800 persons working in the non-government sector who were committed to working a fixed number of days per week for the employer, some 1 695 900 (66.3%) were required to work more than five days but up to six days per week; and 849 100 (33.2%) were required to work for five days or less. The breakdown of the latter group of employees by major occupations is as follows:

Occupation       Number of persons       Percentage
                 with five contractual
                 days of work or
                 less per week ('000)
Managers and     513.2                   60.4
and associate

Clerks           170.8                    20.1

Service workers  45.7                     5.4
and shop sales

Craft and        36.1                     4.3
related workers

Plant and        18.2                     2.1
machine operators
and assemblers

Elementary       65.1                     7.7

Total:           849.1                   100

     The above HRMCs surveys and the Special Topic Enquiry of C&SD had not collected the reasons and difficulties impeding employers from implementing five-day work week. Nevertheless, from our usual contacts with relevant parties, factors such as the mode of operation, nature of service, operational cost and manpower arrangement of the organisations may affect the employers putting five-day work week into practice.

(e) The Government has not set a target for the implementation of five-day work week. Nevertheless, the Government itself has implemented the five-day week initiative in phases since July 2006. With LD's promotion and publicity targeted at employers of different fields in recent years, we observe that the message is gradually filtering through different trades and that there is a rising trend of organisations adopting five-day work week.

Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:24