The government has dismissed a political party's call for a buffer period after introduction of the statutory minimum wage during which small businesses would not be punished for breaching the new law. 'There is no such thing as a buffer period. The government does not intend to have one,' Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said. The proposal was made by the business-oriented Liberal Party at a meeting with Cheung yesterday. 'We suggest a half-year buffer period in which bosses of [small and medium enterprises] would not face immediate prosecution,' party chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee said after the meeting. The minimum wage of HK$28 an hour comes into effect on Sunday. The party said the grace period would give businesses time to become familiar with the law. Rejecting the idea, Cheung said the government would be pragmatic in enforcing the Minimum Wage Ordinance. 'The most important thing is that we have to understand the reason why an employer has broken the law - whether they broke it deliberately or just carelessly and unintentionally,' he said. Flexibility would be shown towards employers who miscalculated the wage inadvertently, although they would still be required to pay the wages owed, he said. Cheung said it would be hard to judge the impact of the law before the end of May or the beginning of June. Meanwhile, a legislator's plan to seek a temporary suspension of the ordinance has been labelled ridiculous by an executive councillor. Tourism-sector lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun will move a non-binding motion on May 11 urging the suspension because, he said, both employees and employers in many industries had complained bitterly about the new law. Exco member Cheng Yiu-tong said it was a ridiculous idea. 'The Legco passed the ordinance back in July last year,' he said. Lau also called for understanding for smaller companies that could not offer the paid meal breaks and rest days being demanded by unionists although they are not guaranteed in the ordinance. Lau said it would be unfair to label employers who did not have the financial ability to cover these payments as 'scrooge' bosses. 'Not every boss in society is able to follow what the government or big corporations can do,' she said. The government has promised to give extra cash to contractors so they can pay for rest days, but not meal breaks. Some fast-food chains have said they will pay for meal breaks.