LCQ3: Employers' provision of documentary proofs of the work experience of employees and former employees

     Following is a question by the Ir Dr Hon Lo Wai-kwok and a reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (December 3):


     At present, the registration requirements for quite a number of professions (e.g. registered electrical workers) include work experience in the relevant industries. Recently, an electrical worker has asked for my assistance, saying that his former employer refused to provide him with documentary proofs of his electrical work experience, rendering his application for registration unsuccessful. On the other hand, in accordance with the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) mechanism under the Qualifications Framework (QF), an RPL applicant may obtain a statement of attainment at QF Levels 1 to 3 simply by producing documentary proofs of years of service and work experience in the relevant industries verified by an assessment agency without the need to undergo any assessment. It is learnt that at present, there is no statutory requirement for employers to provide documentary proofs of work experience upon the requests of employees or former employees. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) in each of the past five years, of the numbers of requests for assistance and complaints received by the authorities in relation to employers' alleged refusal to provide documentary proofs of work experience upon the requests of employees or former employees;

(2) given that at present, there is no statutory requirement for employers to provide employees or former employees with documentary proofs of work experience, whether the authorities have assessed the difficulties faced by RPL applicants in obtaining such documents; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) whether the authorities will review the existing legislation to require employers to provide documentary proofs of work experience upon reasonable requests of their employees or former employees, so as to perfect the relevant registration system and the RPL mechanism; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Government launched the Qualifications Framework (QF) in 2008 with a view to encouraging lifelong learning and enhancing the competitiveness of the workforce in Hong Kong. The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) mechanism is established under QF to enable employees of various backgrounds to receive formal recognition of the knowledge, skills and experience already acquired. At present, the RPL mechanism has been implemented in ten industries, namely Watch and Clock, Printing and Publishing, Hairdressing, Property Management, Automotive, Jewellery, Logistics, Chinese Catering, Beauty and Retail. Regarding the various parts of the question, having consulted the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) which regulates the registration of electrical workers in accordance with the Electricity Ordinance (Chapter 406), my reply is as follows:

(1) According to EMSD, the Electricity Ordinance does not contain explicit requirement for "proof of employment" issued by employers. In the past five years, the Department has only received two cases of application for registration as registered electrical worker (REW) involving request for assistance as the applicants were unable to obtain documentary proof of work experience from their employers. The two applicants were eventually approved to become REWs.

     On the other hand, for the RPL mechanism under QF, the Education Bureau has also received no such requests for assistance or complaints in the past five years.

(2) Under the prevailing arrangements, besides documentary proofs of work experience issued by employers, other references (such as attestation of jobs issued by registered labour unions or associations, tax demand notes or business registration certificates for the self-employed) would also be considered by the assessment agency under the RPL mechanism as proofs of work experience.

     Also, to apply for RPL, since June 1, 2013, employees who are unable to produce documentary proofs of work experience may opt to submit other supporting documents in the form of an individual portfolio, such as, among others, curriculum vitae and their entries for competitions, and subject themselves to assessment test.

(3) Regarding the Electricity Ordinance, EMSD considers that there is no practical need to amend the regulation relating to the application for registration as REW.

     Separately, application for RPL is on a voluntary basis. As mentioned before, the assessment agency has accepted other references in cases where employees are unable to produce documentary proofs of work experience issued by their employers for various reasons as well as to provide the alternative of individual portfolio for applicants to obtain RPL. We are of the view that the prevailing arrangements have put in place due flexibility.

     Meanwhile, the Industry Training Advisory Committees established under QF promote RPL from time to time among employers, trade associations, labour unions and practitioners in relevant sectors, which in turn encourage employers to assist their employees in applying for RPL.

Ends/Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:25