Pan-democrats push for standard working hours law

Lawmakers want 40- to 44-hour standard week and employees who work longer to be paid 1½ times their usual wage

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 4:02am

Pan-democratic parties have joined hands to push for a "long overdue" law on standard working hours that they say is on the statute books in 130 countries and regions, including Taiwan.

The experiences of those places showed the effects of instituting standard hours in the workplace were not as bad as local businesses had claimed, the parties said.

Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan noted that the government had finished an impact analysis in June but had not released the results.

"Various political parties have been pushing for a law in standard working hours for so many years. The government has had enough time to listen to all their views," Lee told a news conference yesterday backed by nine pan-democratic parties, including the Democratic Party, Civic Party and People Power.

"The government has all the information it needs about this law. All it takes is the determination to implement it."

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung has said the report will be submitted to Legco this month.

The pan-democrats are calling for a 40- to 44-hour working week and want employees who work longer than this to be paid 1½ times their usual wage rate.

In August, the Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs said most respondents in a survey of retail workers worked more than 54 hours a week.

Businesses have warned that the minimum wage law implemented in May last year has led to a surge in employers' operation costs and many companies were finding it hard to survive. The Employers' Federation, which represents about 500 employers, has expressed concern that standard working hours will make the city less attractive for doing business.

The pan-democrats made their voices heard yesterday before Matthew Cheung attends a Legco meeting today to discuss a non-binding motion raised by Labour Party lawmaker Peter Cheung Kwok-che on the issue.

Lee believes that with the support of the nine pan-democratic parties and the pro-government Federation of Trade Unions, the law "can definitely be passed".

The nine parties, together with the FTU and labour-sector lawmaker Poon Siu-ping, have 32 votes. Thirty-five votes are needed to pass a bill.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, with 12 votes, has not made its stance clear in a survey the Confederation of Trade Unions sent out recently.