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Standard Working Hours Committee holds 19th meeting

The following is issued on behalf of the Standard Working Hours Committee:

     The Standard Working Hours Committee (SWHC) held its 19th meeting today (January 26).

     The Chairperson of SWHC, Dr Leong Che-hung, said after the meeting, "On the basis of the previous discussion of SWHC, and with reference to the findings of the dedicated working hours survey as well as the public engagement and consultation on working hours conducted by SWHC in 2014, SWHC has in principle recommended exploring a legislative approach to mandatorily require employers and employees in general to enter into written employment contracts, specifying clearly such terms relating to working hours, e.g. the number of working hours, overtime work arrangements and methods of overtime compensation (i.e. the 'big frame').  SWHC is also exploring whether there is a need for other suitable measure(s) to provide further protection for grass-roots employees with lower income, lower skills and less bargaining power (i.e. the 'small frame')."

     "SWHC has agreed to conduct the second-stage consultation on its preliminary discussion outcomes and working hours policy directions under exploration, so as to collect views of the public and relevant organisations for SWHC's reference in further discussing working hours policy directions and preparing its report.  SWHC has agreed to consult the public on four policy directions which can be considered for taking forward the working hours policy, namely: (i) only implementing the 'big frame'; (ii) only implementing the 'small frame'; (iii) on the premise of implementing the 'big frame', to implement the 'small frame' as well; and (iv) not to implement the 'big frame' nor 'small frame' but recommend implementing other policies/measures pertaining to working hours (e.g. formulating voluntary guidelines according to the needs of individual sectors)."

     Following the discussion of the last meeting on the draft consultation document for the second-stage consultation, SWHC further discussed the revised draft consultation document in today's meeting.  With reference to SWHC's discussion, the secretariat will formulate the relevant documents and arrangements relating to the second-stage consultation for consideration by members of SWHC.  The consultation will start as soon as possible.

     Dr Leong said, "SWHC will need time to complete the remaining work (including conducting the second-stage consultation, formulating appropriate and feasible working hours policy directions, as well as preparing SWHC's report).  Noting that the term of SWHC will last until early April this year, SWHC will in due course submit to the Government a proposal on the extension of its term."

     Dr Leong also said, "In contemplating a working hours policy, SWHC needs to carefully consider various factors including employees' overtime work situation, as well as the possible impacts of different scenarios on employees, employers, enterprises (particularly small and medium-sized enterprises), trades, the overall economy and the labour market, with a view to building community consensus and formulating appropriate and feasible working hours policy directions."

     Dr Leong is disappointed that the six employee members of the Labour Advisory Board did not attend the meeting today.

     Dr Leong said, "Before today's meeting, I issued a letter to all SWHC members and reiterated that SWHC has been working very diligently over more than two-and-a-half years and, on the premise of no pre-conceived stance, adopting an evidence-based approach for discussion, with a view to offering the best advice to the Government on working hours policy directions that are currently more suitable for Hong Kong.  SWHC preliminarily agreed to adopt the above-mentioned four policy directions for conducting the second-stage consultation on the directions.  I believe the above four directions should address the aspirations and concerns of all stakeholders (including employees, employers and the public).  I appeal to all members to actively participate in the ensuing discussions of SWHC, and formulate the detailed arrangements of the second-stage consultation and the subsequent report to the Government.  I particularly urge the employer and employee sides not to insist on their respective stance, and pragmatically discuss how to conduct consultation on the above four directions, which include the directions relating to the 'big frame' and 'small frame'".

     Chaired by Dr Leong Che-hung, SWHC comprises members drawn from the labour and business sectors, academia, the community and the Government.  For details, please refer to the SWHC website (

Ends/Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Issued at HKT 22:47


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