The Employment Ordinance provides for various employment-related benefits
and entitlements for employees. On top of the statutory requirements,
employers and employees are free to negotiate on the terms and conditions
of their employment.
Since December 2000, all relevant employers have to
enrol their employees in MPF schemes in accordance with the Mandatory
Provident Fund (MPF) Schemes legislation. The participation rate of the
relevant employers in MPF schemes, which are regulated by the Mandatory
Provident Fund Schemes Authority, reached 95.4 per cent by year-end.
The employment of children under 15 years of age is generally prohibited.
Subject to stringent requirements, children aged 13 and 14 may be employed
in non-industrial establishments. Young persons aged 15 to 17 may work
in industrial establishments, subject to regulations governing their employment
conditions. Specific provisions under labour legislation protect their
safety, health and welfare.
Labour inspectors conduct rigorous workplace inspections
to monitor employers' compliance with the various provisions of labour
legislation to safeguard the statutory rights and benefits of local and
imported workers, and to ensure that employers possess valid insurance
policies covering their liabilities for work injuries of their employees.
Labour inspectors also check employees' proof of identity to help combat
In Hong Kong, the employees' compensation system adopts the no-fault
principle whereby compensation is payable irrespective of whether the
injury, the occupational disease or death was caused by the employee's
fault. The Employees' Compensation Ordinance covers injuries or death
caused by accidents arising out of and in the course of employment or
by specified occupational diseases. An employer must be in possession
of a valid insurance policy to cover his liabilities under the ordinance
and at common law.
The Employees' Compensation Division of the Labour
Department, which administers the Employees' Compensation Ordinance, assists
injured employees and family members of deceased employees to obtain compensation
from their employers. It also administers a scheme to provide interest-free
loans to those injured employees and family members of deceased employees
who need financial assistance as a result of a work-related accident.
Payment of compensation under the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation)
Ordinance is administered by the Pneumoconiosis Compensation Fund Board.
Pneumoconiosis sufferers who were diagnosed before 1981 are not covered
by the ordinance. They receive ex gratia benefits from the Government
under the Pneumoconiosis Ex Gratia Scheme.
The Occupational Deafness Compensation Scheme compensates
employees suffering from noise-induced deafness due to employment in specified
noisy occupations. It is administered by the Occupational Deafness Compensation
Board. The Occupational Deafness (Compensation) (Amendment) Ordinance
2003, which came into effect on May 16, 2003, has introduced improvements
to the scheme and additional benefits to persons who are entitled to occupational
deafness compensation, including the reimbursement of expenses in relation
to hearing assistive devices and rehabilitation services.
The Employees Compensation Assistance Scheme provides
a safety net for injured employees or family members of deceased employees
so that they can receive compensation from the scheme in cases where employers
default payment of compensation for work-related injuries or insurers
become insolvent. The scheme is financed by a levy imposed on all employees'
compensation insurance policies taken out by employers.
The Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board adjudicates claims under
the Employment Ordinance and in accordance with individual employment
contracts. The board hears and determines employment claims involving
not more than 10 claimants for a sum of money not exceeding $8,000 per
claimant. During the year, the board concluded 2 763 cases and made awards
amounting to $6.6 million.
The Labour Tribunal is part of the Judiciary and provides a quick, inexpensive
and informal method of adjudicating various types of disputes between
employees and employers which are not within the exclusive jurisdiction
of the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board.
In 2003, there were 11 263 cases filed
in the tribunal of which 11 232 were initiated by employees
and 31 by employers. Of these cases, 91.9 per cent were referred by the
Labour Relations Division of the Labour Department after unsuccessful
conciliation attempts. During the year, the tribunal dealt with a total
of 11 385 cases and made awards amounting to more than $705 million.
To expedite investigation and prosecution concerning wage offences, the
Labour Department has a dedicated unit to conduct in-depth investigations
into suspected breaches of the Employment Ordinance at the earliest instance.
In 2003, the department secured convictions for 445 summonses on wage
offences, representing a significant increase of 220 per cent compared
with 139 summonses in 2002. The department has taken swift action to detect
wage offences through inspections of targeted workplaces. It has also
strengthened its educational and promotional efforts to remind employers
of their statutory obligation to pay wages on time and to educate employees
on the right to lodge claims and the importance of serving as prosecution