The Labour Department is headed by the Permanent Secretary for Economic
Development and Labour (Labour) who also assumes the role of the Commissioner
for Labour. It formulates and implements labour policies, enforces labour
legislation, promotes harmonious labour relations and responsible trade
unionism, safeguards employees' rights and benefits and protects the safety,
health and welfare of the workforce. It also provides free employment
services to employers and job-seekers.
The Labour Department administers labour laws in force in the HKSAR.
Labour legislation has been enacted which, supplemented by administrative
measures, enables Hong Kong to maintain internationally accepted labour
Eight items of labour legislation were enacted in
2003. Among them, the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) Ordinance was
amended to improve the benefits provided to employees under the Occupational
Deafness Compensation Scheme. The Employees Compensation Assistance Ordinance
was amended to make it clear that in the event of insurer insolvency,
the Employees Compensation Assistance Fund Board may assist employers
regarding legal costs in relation to proceedings brought by their employees
for employment-related injuries.
The Construction Sites (Safety) Regulations (CSSR)
were amended to improve the safety performance of construction subcontractors
by holding both the principal contractor and the subcontractor jointly
and severally liable for safety offences. Consequential amendments were
also made to the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Lifting Appliances
and Lifting Gear) Regulations, the Factories and Industrial Undertakings
(Suspended Working Platforms) Regulation and the Factories and Industrial
Undertakings (Loadshifting Machinery) Regulation to reflect the changes
arising from the CSSR amendment.
During the year, there were 5 424 prosecutions for
breaches of various ordinances and regulations administered by the Labour
Department. Fines totalling $29,898,996 were imposed.
The international labour conventions of the International Labour Organisation
(ILO) prescribe standards on matters such as labour administration, employment,
and occupational safety and health as models for member states. These
conventions have a significant influence on the formulation of the HKSAR's
labour legislation. On August 8, 2003, the Worst Forms of Child Labour
Convention, 1999 (No. 182) came into force in the HKSAR. Currently, 41
conventions are applied here. This number compares favourably with most
member states of the ILO in the Asia-Pacific region.
The HKSAR continues to participate in the activities
of the ILO. In 2003, representatives from the HKSAR participated in the
91st Session of the International Labour Conference as advisers to the
delegation of China. The HKSAR also participated in the 17th International
Conference of Labour Statisticians as members of China's delegation.