Employers asked not to cut benefits

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 12:00am

The Labour Department says it hopes companies will not cut back on workers' benefits. The call came after the department on Monday introduced guidelines that do not say whether employees should be paid for meal breaks and rest days.

Concerns have been raised that employers will take advantage of this grey area to pay their employees a smaller monthly salary - after the HK$28-per-hour minimum wage comes into effect on May 1. Companies might also reduce pay by replacing the year-end double pay with a small bonus, or cancelling paid holidays, critics say.

Assistant Commissioner for Labour Mabel Li Po-yi said on a radio programme yesterday that workers' pay, as well as other benefits, should not be cut back because of the law.

According to the 'Statutory Minimum Wage: Reference Guidelines for Employers and Employees', workers must be paid for meal breaks and rest days only if that is stated in their employment contract.

Otherwise, employers and workers must come to an agreement among themselves.

The HK$28 an hour wage was proposed last year, using figures from 2009.

The law will be reviewed every two years to see if any adjustments should be made, whether they be upwards or down.