Hongkongers have worst work-life balance in Asia-Pacific as 77pc take calls on holiday: survey

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 June, 2015, 1:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 June, 2015, 2:11am

Harassed Hongkongers have the worst work-life balance among workers in the Asia-Pacific region, a survey has found.

But a leading industrialist dismissed the findings, saying hard toil is what makes the city great.

Researchers from recruitment agency Randstad spoke to more than 400 people in Hong Kong and found that 77 per cent of them felt they had to take work-related calls and respond to emails even when on holiday.

The figure for the mainland, next worst on the list, was 67 per cent.

And almost 75 per cent of workers in Hong Kong said their bosses expected them to be on call outside of work hours.

In March a panel of government advisers said the law should require employers to state clearly how many hours staff were supposed to work and how they would get paid for overtime.

The panel commissioned a report that found 23 per cent of the working population put in 51.5 hours a week or longer.

Peter Yu, director of Randstad Hong Kong, warned that the poor work-life balance meant companies could have trouble hiring staff and convincing them to stay.

"Particularly with an unemployment rate as low as 3.3 per cent, organisations in Hong Kong are pressed to provide more than just competitive salaries to attract and retain talent," he said.

Yu said bosses should not email employees outside of work hours, should set realistic project timelines, and make sure people going on holiday get to hand off their work properly.

The recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley reached similar conclusions last September. Its survey found that 84 per cent of people in Hong Kong worked longer hours than stated in their contracts, but only 37 per cent said they felt the extra time was spent productively.

However, Stanley Lau Chin-ho, managing director of Renley Watch Manufacturing and chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, said the work-life balance was not a problem.

"Hongkongers are hardworking, detail-oriented, and efficient. This is part of the reason why Hong Kong became such a success. It is a core value of Hong Kong," Lau said.

"If employees want higher wages, shorter hours, and a lot of vacation days, then Hong Kong will no longer be competitive," he added.