The city's biggest employers group is issuing a letter to its members today reminding them that rest days and meal breaks are not required to be paid under the minimum-wage law about to go into force. The Employers' Federation of Hong Kong, whose members employ more than a million workers, also advises companies to review their contracts with staff as soon as possible to avoid any possible confusion. 'The law is very clear. Under section four of the new law, minimum wage is paid for the hours of work. Meal breaks and rest days are not required to be paid for under the law,' federation chairman John Chan Cho-chak said. 'If employers want to be generous, it's up to them to decide.' He said many employers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, were only beginning to realise that many employment contracts did not clearly define whether meal breaks and rest days were to be paid. The law, which will be enacted on May 1, does not specify whether meal breaks and rest days should be included in pay calculations. The Labour and Welfare Bureau stressed it was up to employers and employees to reach agreement. The government is expected to issue guidelines soon, but a person who has seen a draft said it did not address meal breaks and rest days. The Hospital Authority calculated it would have to pay up to HK$7,900 a month to some staff - not HK$6,200 as it originally calculated - if meal breaks and rest days were paid. The federation came up with an even bigger figure, saying a typical employee who worked five days a week, nine hours a day, would be paid HK$8,456 a month if everything was included. It valued meal breaks and rest days at HK$2,656 a month. 'That equals HK$40.90 per hour of work,' Chan said. 'This is not the figure mentioned when the minimum wage law was... discussed in Legco over the past couple of years.' Chan said the group would urge members not to cut their employees' existing pay, to meet their commitment under the law and to demonstrate good practice in staff communication when reviewing contracts. At a packed seminar on the law organised by the Labour Department at Baptist University yesterday, many companies were still confused on how it was going to work. 'Should my staff's lunch meeting with clients be counted as work hours,' asked one woman, who was told by a labour official only that it was up to both sides to agree. IT company boss Chan Sin-fong was told she had to keep pay records for a consultant on HK$50,000 a month because he took a long period of unpaid leave. Under the law, employers are required to keep pay records for staff on less than HK$11,500 a month, but the consultant's unpaid leave brought his pay below that. 'This is very troublesome and I have only discovered it now,' she said.