Engage In Hong Kong

Table of Contents

About Hong Kong

Capital City

Hong Kong

Population

As of March 2024, the estimated population of Hong Kong is 7.4 million.

Currency

The currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD). The currency symbol is HK$.

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Overview

Hong Kong, officially known as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR), is a vibrant and bustling city that serves as a global financial hub and a gateway to Asia. Situated on the southeastern coast of China, Hong Kong is a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures, offering a captivating fusion of tradition and modernity. Hong Kong attracts millions of visitors yearly with its stunning skyline, bustling street markets, and diverse culinary scene. As a former British colony, the city has a rich history and unique identity. It became a Special Administrative Region of China in 1997, retaining its legal and economic systems, separate from the rest of the country. Known for its efficient transportation network, impressive infrastructure, and dynamic business environment, Hong Kong thrives as a major international financial center and hub for trade and commerce. Additionally, the city is renowned for its breathtaking natural landscapes, including lush mountains, picturesque beaches, and serene hiking trails, providing ample opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to explore. Whether experiencing vibrant city life, indulging in its diverse culinary delights, or immersing oneself in its rich cultural heritage, Hong Kong offers a truly unforgettable experience for¬†locals and visitors alike.

Employment Relationship

Permanent Employment

Hong Kong's employment ordinance stipulates that every contract of employment, which is a continuous contract, shall, in the absence of any express agreement to the contrary, be deemed to be a contract for one month renewable on a monthly basis. An employee is considered to be permanent when he or she has worked for at least 18 hours a week for four weeks with an employer. In addition to basic benefits protection, employees under a continuous contract are entitled to benefits such as rest days, paid annual leave, sickness allowance, severance payments, and long service payments. In disputes over whether a contract is continuous or not, the burden of proof will be on the employer.

Fixed-Term or Specific-Purpose Contracts

In Hong Kong, every contract of employment is deemed to be a contract for 1 month and renewable from month to month, unless there is an agreement between the employer and employee that states otherwise. The Employment Ordinance allows hiring fixed-term contract workers for tasks of permanent nature, where the contract automatically terminates at the end of the term with no required notice period. Employees under fixed-term contracts are not eligible for long service payments.

Temporary Employment Contratcs

The Employment Ordinance does not differentiate between “temporary,” “part-time,” “substituted,” “permanent,” and “full-time” employees. All employees covered by the Employment Ordinance, irrespective of their designated job titles or working hours, are entitled to statutory rights and protections such as minimum wage payment, restriction on deductions from wages, entitlement to statutory holidays, etc. An employee who has been working continuously for the same employer for 4 weeks or more, with at least 18 hours worked in each week, is further entitled to rights such as rest days, annual leave with pay and sickness allowance, to name a few.

Probationary Period

According to the Employment Ordinance of Hong Kong, an employment contract can include a probationary period. There is no statutory limit on the duration of probation. If an employee is on probation and the contract does not make provision for the length of notice required for its termination, such agreement can be terminated by either party at any time during the first month of such employment without notice or payment in lieu, and by giving a notice period of 7 days after the first month. If the contract includes a notice period clause, it can still be terminated without notice during the first month. After the first month, it can be terminated with the determined notice period.

Working Hours

The labor code of Hong Kong does not define standard working hours. An employee who has worked for at least 18 hours per week for 4 weeks for the same employer is considered to be employed under a continuous employment contract. The law does limit the number of working hours to 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week for young persons between the age of 15 and 18 years. An employee under a continuous employment contract is entitled to at least 1 rest day every 7 days. A rest day is defined as a continuous period of at least 24 hours during which an employee is entitled to abstain from working.

Holidays / PTO

Statutory Holidays

An employee, regardless of the length of service, is entitled to the following statutory holidays:

  • New Year - January 1
  • Lunar New Year’s Day - date subject to change every year
  • Second and third days of Lunar New Year - dates subject to change every year
  • Ching Ming Festival - date subject to change every year
  • Good Friday - date subject to change every year
  • Day after Good Friday - date subject to change every year
  • Easter Monday - date subject to change every year
  • Labor Day - May 1
  • Birthday of the Buddha - date subject to change every year
  • Tuen Ng Festival - date subject to change every year
  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day - July 1
  • National Day - October 1
  • The day following the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival - date subject to change every year
  • Chung Yeung Festival - date subject to change every year
  • Christmas Day - December 1
  • The first weekday after Christmas - date subject to change every year

If any of the holidays fall on a Sunday, the next day is declared a holiday.

Paid Annual Leave

Employees who have worked under a continuous contract of at least 12 months are entitled to annual leave. An employee's entitlement to paid annual leave increases progressively from 7 days to a maximum of 14 days according to the length of service. Employers are required to pay the annual leave pay to the employee on the day of the next payday after the annual leave period. The payment is equal to 100% of the daily average wages of the employee in the 12 months before the start of the annual leave. The law generally prohibits remuneration in lieu of the annual leave; however, an employee may choose to accept payment in lieu of the part of leave that exceeds 10 days.

Sick Leave

The labor code of Hong Kong requires employers to provide a sickness allowance to an employee who has worked under a continuous employment contract for 1 month. The benefits accrue as follows: 2 paid sick days for each completed month of employment under continuous agreement during the first 12 months of employment 4 paid sick days per month after the first 12 months The daily rate of sickness allowance is a sum equivalent to 80% of the average daily wages earned by an employee during 12 months preceding the first day of sick leave. For employment of under 12 months, the calculation is based on the shorter period. Sickness allowance is to be paid to the employee not later than the usual payday.

Maternity Leave

Female employees who have been working under a continuous contract immediately before the commencement of the maternity leave and have given notice of pregnancy (and the upcoming maternity leave) to the employer, are entitled to the following periods of leave: A continuous period of 14 weeks' maternity leave If delivery occurs past the expected date, the number of days from the day after the expected delivery date to the actual date of delivery is added An additional period of leave for up to 4 weeks on the grounds of illness or disability due to pregnancy or birth Maternity leave is paid for 14 weeks on the typical payday of the employee. The daily rate of maternity leave benefit is a sum equivalent to 80% of the average daily wages earned by an employee in the 12 months preceding the first day of maternity leave, subject to a cap of HKD 80,000 (Hong Kong dollars). For employment under 12 months, the calculation shall be based on a shorter period.

Paternity Leave

Employees are entitled to a paternity leave of 5 days during the period that starts 4 weeks before the expected delivery date and runs 10 weeks after it. They must be the father or father-to-be of the child. They must have been employed under a continuous contract for at least 4 weeks and are required to notify the employer of the paternity leave at least 3 months before the expected delivery date.  The daily rate of paternity leave benefit is a sum equivalent to 80% of the average daily wages earned by an employee in the 12 months preceding the day of paternity leave. For the employment period under 12 months, the calculation of the benefit is based on the shorter period.

Termination of Employment

Notice Period

An employee or an employer can terminate the employment contract by giving notice to the other party verbally or in writing. The length of the notice period is as follows: For employment contracts renewable from month to month, the notice period is to be at least 1 month. In other cases, the notice period would be the one that is agreed to in the employment contract (cannot be under 7 days). Employment contract can be terminated without giving notice by making a payment equal to the wages for the number of days of notice agreed upon. An employer can summarily dismiss an employee without notice or payment in lieu of notice in case of gross misconduct. However, an employee taking part in a strike is not a lawful ground for an employer to terminate the contract without notice or payment in lieu.

Severance Benefits

Employees are eligible for severance pay if they have been employed for at least 24 months and are either dismissed by the employer due to economic redundancy or laid off as the employer is not able to provide work for at least half of the total regular working hours for a period of 4 consecutive weeks. The amount of severance pay is calculated as follows for every year of employment: For a monthly-paid employee, the benefit is equal to two-thirds of the last full month’s salary or HKD 22,500, whichever is lower. For other employees, the severance pay is equal to 18 days of wages based on any 18 days chosen by the employee and occurring during the last 30 regular working days, or two-thirds of HKD 22,500, whichever is lower. There is no entitlement to severance benefits if the dismissal is based on employee conduct. Severance pay is not issued if the employer has offered to renew the employment contract at least 7 days before the contract termination date, but the employee has refused the offer unreasonably.

Social Security

Pension

The law of Hong Kong provides for a Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme for employees who are 18 years old or over but below the retirement age of 65. The benefits are paid to employees who have attained the retirement age, in the form of a lump sum amount or installments from the accrued amount in the scheme. If the employee takes early retirement after reaching 60 years of age, they are eligible to receive the accrued amount either in a lump sum or in installments. The rates of monthly contributions are is set by the Mandatory Provident Funds Schemes Authority: For monthly income of less than HKD 7,100 (Hong Kong dollars), employers contribute 5%, and no employee contributions are required. For monthly income between HKD 7,100 and 30,000, employers and employees contribute 5% each. For monthly income that exceeds HKD 30,000, the contribution is a flat amount of HKD 1,500 from each party.

Dependents/Survivors Benefit

According to Hong Kong's Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) Schemes Ordinance, when a member of a registered scheme has died, the scheme trustee shall pay the accrued benefits of the member to the member's dependents as a lump sum. An employer's obligations to pay benefits to the survivors after the death of an employee due to a work-related accident are as follows: In case of death of an employee under the age of 40 years at the time of death, a lump sum amount equal to 84 months' earnings is paid to the family. In case of death of an employee between the age of 40 years and 56 years at the time of death, a lump sum amount equal to 60 months' earnings is paid to the family. In case of death of an employee over the age of 56 years at the time of death, a lump sum amount equal to 36 months' earnings is paid to the family. Where death results from a workplace injury, reimbursement of the reasonable expenses of the funeral of the deceased employee and the reasonable costs of medical attendance on the deceased employee shall be paid by the employer to a person who has covered the expenses. The employer’s reimbursement of funeral and medical expenses to the deceased employee is capped at HKD 92,670.

Invalidity Benefit

Employers must have a valid insurance policy to cover their liabilities both under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance and at common law for the work injuries of employees. Compensation payable for permanent total incapacity resulting from a work injury is calculated with reference to the age and monthly earnings of the injured employee. Injured employees under 40 years of age are entitled to 96 months' earnings or minimum amount of compensation, whichever is higher. Injured employees between 40 and 56 years of age are entitled to 72 months' earnings or minimum amount of compensation, whichever is higher. Injured employees age 56 and over will receive 48 months of earnings or minimum amount of compensation, whichever is higher. Employees also cover medical expenses up to a certain limit. 

Taxation of Compensation and Benefits

Personal Income Tax

The tax code of Hong Kong states that all the persons are liable to pay income tax on their income arising in Hong Kong from any employment or pension. The tax assessment year runs from April 1 to March 31. A standard deduction of HKD 6,000 of the net assessable income is applicable. The current income tax rates on taxable income are as follows: On the first HKD 50,000 – 2% HKD 50,001 to 100,000 – 6% HKD 100,001 to 150,000 -10% HKD 150,001 to 200,000 – 14% Above HKD 200,000 -17%

Immigration

Types of Visas

Transit visa – required for persons traveling from one place to another via Hong Kong Visitor visa – issued to those who are traveling to Hong Kong for recreational purposes  Employment visas – issued to foreign nationals coming to work in Hong Kong. They must have an employment contract. It is valid till 1 year and is renewable. Investment visas – issued to those who are investing in Hong Kong. They can bring their spouse or partners. Entrepreneur visas – issued to those who are starting a business in Hong Kong Dependent visas – for spouses or partners of people who are employed or investors in visa Student visas – issued to foreign nationals who are enrolled in full-time educational programs or internships in Hong Kong. They must have a school acceptance letter to confirm that he/she has been accepted for a course of study and must be able to meet financial requirements. For internship, the duration of stay is 12 months. Other visas (Imported Workers, Foreign Domestic Helpers)

Work Permit

Short-term visitors are permitted to conduct business negotiations and sign contracts while on a visitor’s visa or entry permit. Eligibility requirements to apply for a work permit include: The applicant has no known record of serious crime in the past. The applicant has a sufficient educational background, usually a degree in the relevant field, but in special circumstances, proper technical qualifications, proven professional abilities, and/or relevant experience and achievements supported by documentary evidence may also be accepted. There is a genuine employment vacancy for the applicant to fill. The applicant has a confirmed employment offer and is hired for a job relevant to their academic qualifications or work experience that cannot be readily taken up by the local workforce. The remuneration package (income, accommodation, medical, and other fringe benefits) is broadly commensurate with the prevailing market level for professionals in Hong Kong. The work permit is issued for a year and is renewable. 

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