Public doctors are to lodge a formal complaint with the Labour Department next week after collecting evidence they say shows they are being denied rest days and statutory holidays. The Public Doctors' Association has completed part of its research in major hospitals to find out if individual departments have deprived doctors of their rights under the Employment Ordinance. Association vice-president Dr Leung Ka-lau said yesterday it was time to escalate action because talks with the Hospital Authority had dragged on for months. Dr Leung said many doctors were not given one rest day for every seven days of work, as laid out in the ordinance, and working conditions for trainee doctors were the worst. The association plans to file a complaint with the Labour Department on behalf of its 1,500 members next week. 'Some department heads have refused to make any change in the roster. We will pass the information to the [Labour Department], we hope it will do something for us,' Dr Leung said. 'There has been some improvement in compensation of statutory holidays. But for rest days, doctors in major departments such as surgery and medical still cannot enjoy rest days. Some doctors only have one full day off in a month.' The association has collected the information in the past month at five public hospitals: Queen Mary Hospital, Tuen Mun Hospital, Yan Chai Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and Caritas Medical Centre. Research at other hospitals is under way. Hospital officials admitted earlier that the requirement to give compensation days had not been strictly enforced. They blamed operational difficulties and a lack of staff. An earlier association survey found interns worked an average of 96 hours a week and some trainees worked more than 100 hours a week. In June, more than 1,000 doctors staged the biggest sit-in of its kind in a decade to protest against reforms to the bureaucracy and against 'inhuman work conditions'. An authority working group on doctors' working hours will meet for the last time this month. Association president Dr Lai Kang-yiu said the progress of the talks had been 'unsatisfactory'. 'We have met three times but we cannot come to a consensus,' he said. 'The authority is playing with different definitions. Doctors who are on duty but not physically present at the hospital may not be able to get compensation time off for a statutory holiday. The progress is very slow.' Dr Lai said the association wanted to invite Labour Department participation in the talks. 'Perhaps the authority needs help from the Labour Department. It may not be very familiar with the legislation.' A spokesman for the Labour Department said officials would study whether any help could be offered to the association. The department usually arranges conciliation meetings for employers and employees during disputes. A Hospital Authority spokesman said the working group would complete a report later this year and would make recommendations on how to improve work conditions for doctors.