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Hong Kong workers can expect 3.5 per cent pay rise next year – same as this year and worst since 2010

Institute of Human Resource Management says best increases will go to those in construction industry, non-governmental organisations and public utilities

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 November, 2016, 3:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 November, 2016, 9:50pm

Hongkongers can expect an average pay rise of 3.5 per cent next year – the same increment rate as this year, which also happens to be the worst since 2010 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, according to a survey.

The Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management polled 88 companies with about 133,000 staff in September. The companies are from 16 different sectors, including retail, financial services and construction.

Hong Kong bosses to ease up on pay rises as economy limps along

The survey found that employees received an average rise of 3.5 per cent this year, down from 4.3 per cent last year. The increase was the worst since the average pay rise of 1.9 per cent in 2010.

“Employers have concerns about business prospects and so they were conservative in giving out pay rises,” institute vice-president Lawrence Hung Yu-yun said on Wednesday.

“Other factors include the upcoming interest rate increase in the United States and the state of the city’s property market. These are the reasons why companies have become conservative.”

The upcoming presidential election and Brexit could also have harmed investor confidence, as their impacts remain unclear, he added.

Those working in the construction industry and non-governmental organisations pocketed the biggest rise of 4.7 per cent this year, followed by 4.1 per cent in public utilities and 3.8 per cent in shipping.

But those working in the information technology and telecommunications sectors only received a 1.3 per cent rise.

The survey also found that companies with fewer than 500 people were the most generous, doling out a rise of 4.2 per cent on average.

Companies with 500 to 1,000 staff offered a pay rise of 3.7 per cent, while big corporations with more than 1,000 employees gave 3.5 per cent rises to their employees.

Eric Yeung Chuen-sing, president of the Hong Kong Software Industry Association, was surprised at the findings.

He said that IT companies have been offering handsome pay rises over the years in order to retain talent. He believed the sector’s numbers could have been depressed by low pay rises in telecommunications firms.

“If you own a company that develops mobile applications, you can’t retain your staff even if you offer a rise of 8 to 10 per cent,” Yeung said.

“University graduates with about two years of working experience are asking for HK$28,000 a month.”

Meanwhile, the bonus Hongkongers received this year was 1.02 times that of their monthly salary – a level that has remained more or less the same over the past few years.

The amount of non-guaranteed bonus was 1.41 times of their monthly salary this year, down from 1.51 last year.

The survey also found that 85 per cent of workers could expect a pay rise next year, while the rest were likely to have their salaries frozen.