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Government's response on Labour Day processions

     In response to the Labour Day processions today (May 1), a Government spokesman said that the Government has all along been committed to improving employees' benefits at a pace commensurate with Hong Kong's socio-economic development while striking a balance between employees' interests and employers' affordability.

     With the smooth implementation of Statutory Minimum Wage (SMW) for five years, the income of grassroots employees has continued to improve.  Total employment rose by some 270 000 over the pre-SMW period, with increases most apparent among more mature and lower-skilled female workers. The Minimum Wage Commission is now working on a new round of review of the SMW rate and will submit its recommendation report by the fourth quarter of this year.

     Various contentious issues that labour organisations are concerned about are currently under active exploration. These include standard working hours, retirement protection and abolition of offsetting of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF), etc. Among these, the Standard Working Hours Committee has launched the second-stage consultation on working hours policy directions last week to gauge views from different sectors of society for reference to facilitate its submission of a comprehensive report to the Government later. The Commission on Poverty is also conducting a public engagement exercise on retirement protection, while the MPF offsetting arrangement is one of the key issues for consultation.

     Statutory paternity leave (PL) has taken effect since late February last year. Its implementation has been smooth so far, benefiting tens of thousands of employees. The Labour Department is now working on the review of the implementation of statutory PL. This year, the Government has introduced the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2016 to the Legislative Council. The Bill, if enacted, will strengthen the protection of the right to reinstatement or re-engagement for employees who are unreasonably and unlawfully dismissed.

     The near-term outlook for Hong Kong's economy is still subject to considerable downside risks. Individual sectors, such as the tourism and retail industries, have seen weak performance in their business. The Government will stay vigilant and monitor developments of the labour market closely, especially the employment situation of grassroots workers, to provide timely employment support and retraining services to meet their needs.

Ends/Sunday, May 1, 2016
Issued at HKT 18:00


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