Security firms agree to offer paid meal breaks

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 April, 2011, 12:00am


A group of large and medium-sized security companies agreed to offer paid meal breaks to staff, after a meeting yesterday to discuss the minimum wage. But they still have reservations about paid rest days.

The security industry statutory minimum wage concern group involves 25 companies, with 25,000 employees, representing about 30 per cent of the sector. It will publish a statement on Friday listing members' reservations about the law, which comes into effect next month.

'We have an agreement to provide paid meal breaks as many staff have their meals at the security guard post,' said group member Kwok Wai-hung, who owns a security company.

Group spokesman William Cheung Wai-lun said the they would present the pros and cons of paid meal breaks and rest days at the minimum wage of HK$28 an hour, which he said, together, would lead to a 39 per cent increase in staff costs.

'The huge impact will finally shift to the middle class in the city as the profit margin of this industry is very low due to the tough competition,' Cheung said. There are about 460 security companies in the city.

For instance, the cost of a security guard on a 12-hour shift will rise from HK$10,000 to about HK$12,000 a month if a paid meal break is included, and to HK$14,000 if rest days are included.

Some of the property owner committees of single-block residential buildings are considering cutting the number of shifts of security services, the group says.

A woman security guard who works for a small company called BJ Property Management said all 40 members of staff were told in March that paid meal breaks and rest days would be cut after May. Staff were also told they would need to sign new contracts.

'Many security guards are worried about their annual leave being cut in the future as well as having no paid meal breaks or rest days. This is despite the fact the company already asked tenants for a bigger property management fee in February in preparation for the new minimum wage law,' Chan said. A BJ Property Management spokeswoman said the company was still working on the details of security guards' pay.