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Guide to Hiring Employees in Hong Kong

Hiring employees in Hong Kong must comply with the region’s key labor legislations, especially the Employment Ordinance, which is the main piece of legislation governing conditions of employment and highlights employees’ rights and the duties and responsibilities of employers and employees.

The Employment Ordinance separates employees into two categories:

  • Employees employed under a continuous employment contract (entitled to all the statutory benefits under the Employment Ordinance).

  • Employees employed under an employment contract (entitled to essential protection under the Employment Ordinance).

An employee employed continuously by the same employer for four weeks or more, with at least 18 hours worked each week, is regarded as employed under a continuous contract.

Rights and Obligations of Employers and Employees

Employment Contract

Continuous Employment Contract

Maximum work hours/week

Per contract (normally 40-50 hours)

Maximum workdays/week

Per contract (normally 5 days)

Overtime

Per contract

Statutory holidays (paid)

13 Days

Annual leave (paid)

Not applicable

Sick leave (paid)

Not applicable

Maternity leave (paid)

Not applicable

Year-end bonus

Not applicable

Medical insurance

Per contract

Mandatory provident fund (MPF) contribution

Required

Probation

Per contract (normally 1-6 months)

Long service payment

Not applicable

Employers' Duties

Employers have specific obligations, including creating the employment agreement, submitting the employer's Return, notifying tax authorities about the departure of non-resident employees from Hong Kong, and making contributions to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF).

Creating the Employment Agreement

The required information to be incorporated in the employment contract includes:

  • Job title

  • Duration of employment

  • Responsibilities of the employee

  • Commencement date of employment

  • Weekly working hours

  • Entitlements and benefits

  • Conditions for contract termination

While employees' rights and benefits are protected under the Ordinance regardless of whether the employment contract is verbal or written, it is encouraged to have written employment contracts to avoid disputes.

Information Employers Must Provide Before Employment Begins

  • Wages (including the rate, overtime rate, and any allowance)

  • Wage period

  • Length of notice required to terminate the contract

  • End-of-year payment entitlements

If the employment contract is in writing, the employer must give one copy to the employee for retention and reference.

Note: For unwritten contracts, employers must provide this information in writing upon the employee's written request before employment starts. Failure to comply can result in a fine of up to US$10,000.

Employment Age

Hong Kong’s statutory minimum working age is 18. However, minors can work in specific settings depending on their age, subject to certain limitations.

Age Range

Employment Conditions

15+

Allowed to work in industrial settings with work-hour limits

13-14

Can work in non-industrial settings if attending full-time schooling and have completed Form III of secondary education

Under 13

Prohibited from employment unless special permission is granted for art and training purposes

Hiring Students

Employers can hire students who are citizens or permanent residents of Hong Kong on a full-time or part-time basis. Student employees over 18 employed for 60 continuous days are entitled to MPF contributions. Employers must contribute at least 5% of the employee’s monthly earnings.

International Students

  • Internships: Related to the student’s field of study and endorsed by their university

  • Part-time on-campus employment: Up to 17 hours per week

  • Summer employment: No work-hour limitations, allowed between June 1 and August 31

Hiring Part-Time Employees and Contractual Staff

Part-time or contract employees enjoy the same protection as permanent full-time employees under Hong Kong's Employment Ordinance. Part-time staff typically work fewer hours than full-time staff, and contract workers sign fixed-term labor contracts.

Hiring Foreign Employees

The government encourages hiring foreign professionals with unique skills, knowledge, or expertise not readily available in Hong Kong. To work legally, foreign nationals must hold a valid employment visa.

Eligibility Criteria for Work Visa

  • Clean criminal record

  • Solid educational background (typically a university degree)

  • Genuine job opening

  • Confirmed employment offer

  • Compensation package in line with market rates

Types of Visas for Foreign Employees:

Visa Type

Description

Employment visa

Foreign professional staff or graduates with special skills

Supplementary labor scheme visa

Semi-skilled professionals at technician level or below

Hong Kong Minimum Wage

Hong Kong has increased the minimum hourly wage from HK$37.5 (US$4.8) to HK$40 (US$5.11). Employers must record the total hours worked by an employee if the employee is paid the minimum wage and their wages are less than the specified monetary cap.

The monetary cap has been increased from HK$15,300 (US$1,957) per month to HK$16,300 (US$2,085) per month.

For detailed information and updates, always refer to the latest guidelines from the Hong Kong Labour Department.


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