The government is still listening to opinions and has not take a stance on any of the five Employment Ordinance amendment proposals previously put to the Labour Advisory Board concerning part-time employees benefits.
“We are very concerned about this issue. We will continue to listen to everyone’s opinions after having made several proposals earlier. We have not taken a stance on which proposal to choose,” said Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung on Wednesday at a Legislative Council manpower panel meeting on Wednesday.
This contradicts what Labour Advisory Board members believe was a hint from the Commissioner for Labour Cheuk Wing-hing at the last closed-door board meeting that the government was in favour of one of the five proposals. Just before the meeting ended Cheuk reportedly told board members to “go home and think about” the fourth proposal.
At present, employees need to work for their employers at least 18 hours a week for four continuous weeks to be entitled to benefits, such as paid annual leave and sick leave. About 98,000 part-time workers currently do not meet these requirements.
For years, unionists have criticised employers for using these requirements to deny part-time staff benefits by allowing them to work only 17 hours a week.
Of the five proposals tabled to the advisory board, one suggests that the requirements be completely scrapped. This means everyone employed will be entitled to benefits even if they work one day a week.
The second one suggests pro-rating the benefits according to the amount of time put in at work, while the third suggests setting the work requirement at 72 hours or more within a four-week period before receiving benefits.
The fourth is that employees should be entitled to the benefits if they work 16 hours, instead of 18 hours, a week continuously for four weeks.
The last proposal is that no amendments to the ordinance should be made.
Several lawmakers, including Civic Party’s Kwok Ka-ki, supported scrapping the requirements and letting employees get the benefits proportionally according to the number of hours they worked.