Cap on working hours challenged

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2011, 12:00am


Introducing standard working hours might mean low-paid workers are no longer able to work longer hours to fatten their pay packets, the head of the city's biggest Chinese fast-food chain says.

Cafe de Coral chairman Michael Chan Yue-kwong said such workers would rather work an extra hour if they were allowed to.

'Hong Kong people have a reputation of being hard-working. If the standard working hours limit their working hours to eight, it may go against the will of those who want to work longer,' Chan said.

Chan - a former member of the Provisional Minimum Wage Commission set up to recommend a minimum wage - was weighing into the debate on standard hours little more than six months after his company faced a boycott for cancelling paid meal breaks just before last year's announcement of the HK$28-an-hour wage floor.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen asked the labour minister to study the pros and cons of standard working hours after unionists complained that most employees work too many hours. Various studies have shown that a large proportion work 50 hours a week or more.

Chan did admit that standard working hours had merits, including improving people's way of life.

Unionist legislator Wong Kwok-hing said Chan's remarks reflected a typical standpoint of employers. 'If everyone's income is stable and people can make ends meet, who doesn't want to have more time to rest and spend time with their family?'

The Federation of Trade Unions, to which Wong belongs, wants a cap on working hours.

Meanwhile, Chan said Cafe de Coral did not have to issue a profit or net-loss warning. He said he was misquoted in a report that cited him saying the catering group may have to issue a profit warning after the minimum wage law came into force.