Labour laws should be amended so employees sacked for not accepting pay cuts were treated fairly, a senior adviser to Tung Chee-hwa said yesterday. Executive Councillor Tam Yiu-chung said some employers were basing severance payments on the reduced salary, so workers were not getting what they were entitled to. 'It is unfair if staff being laid off obtain less severance payment because their salaries have been cut,' Mr Tam said. He said that guidelines were being drawn up by the Labour Department, telling employers they must consult workers before imposing pay cuts and allowing them a reasonable period to make a decision. 'However, if the guidelines don't work, it is inevitable that legislation will be introduced,' he said. The guidelines also will state that workers have the right to turn down proposed pay cuts and must be given full severance pay if they leave. But Lee Kai-ming, chairman of the Legco manpower panel, said guidelines drawn up by the department were not powerful enough to protect workers. 'The law prohibits employers unilaterally altering employment terms, or they have to pay compensation,' he said. 'But there are still pay cuts despite the provision of the law. How can the guidelines protect the employees?' , The department's acting chief labour officer, Bertha Cheng, said similar guidelines were in force overseas, including Singapore. 'We hope to let the employers and employees discuss and settle the dispute rather than push it through legislative means,' she said. Secretary for Education and Manpower Joseph Wong Wing-ping said the Labour Advisory Board would be consulted on whether there was a need to introduce legislation to prevent unilateral pay cuts. On Saturday, the Democratic Party suggested amending the law to give employees at least 14 days to consider whether to accept a cut. It also suggested all employees be allowed to claim compensation of up to $150,000 if they could show that they would not be able to find a similar job within a certain time. At present, only five types of workers are eligible to ask for such compensation, including those who are dismissed because they are pregnant or on sick leave.