The working week in Hong Kong is from Monday to Saturday, although many companies work half days on Saturday. With no legislation to restrict the working time for most employees, long hours are typically expected. However, workers aged 15 to 18 are limited to a maximum of 48 hours a week, and the Standard Working Hours Committee is currently reviewing the implications of capping working hours for adults too.
In Hong Kong, employees on a long-term or permanent contract are entitled to annual leave after completing 12 months of continuous service. Leave entitlement runs on a progressive scale from a minimum of 7 days to a maximum of 14 days depending on length of service. Sick leave and maternity leave may also be paid, although pay durations may be limited.
There are two types of public holiday in Hong Kong: statutory and general. The Employment Ordinance states that all permanent contract workers are entitled to paid leave on the 12 statutory holidays. If employers require staff to work on these days, they must give notice of at least 48 hours and a day off in lieu. General holidays include the 12 statutory holidays, an additional five holiday dates and every Sunday.
Statutory holiday dates
The first day of January - (1 January)
Lunar New Year's Day - (28 January)
The second day of Lunar New Year - 30 January
The third day of Lunar New Year - 31 January
Ching Ming Festival - 4 April
Labour Day - 1 May
Tuen Ng Festival - 30 May
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day - 1 July
The day following the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival - 5 October
National Day - 1 October
Chung Yeung Festival - 28 October
Chinese Winter Solstice Festival (21 December) or Christmas Day (25 December) (at the option of the employer)
General holiday dates
Good Friday 25th March
Good Friday - 14th April
The day following Ching Ming Festival - 5 April
Easter Monday - 17th April
The Birthday of the Buddha - 14th May
Visas and eligibility to work
Hong Kong is a bustling commercial hub and large numbers of people make short business trips there on a regular basis. To encourage international trade, the immigration regulations for short visits are more accommodating than in mainland China. People of many nationalities may be granted a visa-free visiting period of between 7 and 180 days. Business activities including negotiations, conferences and contract signing are usually allowed within this period, but if you intend to take employment or remain in Hong Kong for a longer period, you will need to apply for a visa. For working visas, you may require your employer’s sponsorship.
Once you arrive in Hong Kong, you will need to apply for a Hong Kong identity card. This card is mandatory and must be carried at all times by anyone aged 11 and older. The type of card issued will depend on your visa type and residency status. For the most up-to-date information on immigration laws in Hong Kong, visit the Immigration Department website.
Foreign nationals working in Hong Kong are liable for salaries tax the same as permanent residents, although taxes are comparatively low and various allowances mean that not all of your income will be taxed. Unlike many countries, tax is not taken directly from workers’ wages. Instead, employees are provisionally taxed based on their previous year’s salary, and must file a tax return to correct the figures. Visit GovHK or the Inland Revenue Department website for more details.
Employees and self-employed workers in Hong Kong are required to contribute at least 5% of their total earnings, including salary, holiday pay, commission, fees, bonuses, gratuities and allowances (excluding housing) to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF). If you are a member of a retirement scheme in your home country, or if your visa for Hong Kong runs for less than 13 months, you will be exempt from joining an MPF scheme. If you later extend your visa and remain in Hong Kong for over 13 months, then you must enrol.
Social security benefits in Hong Kong are controlled by the Social Welfare Department. Most schemes are not accessible to foreign nationals in the short-term, but are worth understanding if you reside in Hong Kong on a long-term or permanent basis.
The rights of disabled workers in Hong Kong are protected under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO). For more information on the law as it relates to a specific disability, visit the Equal Opportunities Commission website.