A top adviser to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is confident an agreement between the business sector and labour unions to standardise working hours will be sealed. Executive Council member Bernard Charnwut Chan told the South China Morning Post that the cost of an agreement to businesses and the consequential loss of jobs would need to be studied further. Chan’s comments came in response to labour unions lobbying the city’s leader in a meeting for a 44-hour working week, as Leung faces increasing pressure to make good on his election manifesto. “Can it be done? Of course it can always be done, right?,” Chan said. “The question is the cost implication and how that would be translated to [real] life. And I think the labour union admitted there would be jobs lost in the process so I think we should ask ourselves at the end ‘are we gaining or we losing?’ but we haven't heard anything yet.” Chan also said the business community needed to do more to tackle issues such as working hours, blaming a portion of this on “social issues”. 44 is the limit? Renewed calls on standard working hours see 300 march in Wan Chai “I’m from business but I often admit much of the social issues are indirectly created by the business sector, so rather than use money to resolve every issue, we can change certain business practices, employee friendly policies that might help,” added Chan, who was speaking ahead of the Oxfam Trailwalker sports event, where he is the race’s advisory committee chairman. “Businesses have a huge stake in making sure that society as a whole can function; it cannot simply expect that it pays tax and the government takes care of everyone.” The government has given the Standard Working Hours Committee two more months to submit its final recommendations, so it has extra time to review the proposals put forward by the labour sector. On the race for Hong Kong’s next chief executive, Chan said he had not considered who he would back, including Leung, but he would “consider” other candidates in the race. Hong Kong unions want laws to standardise working hours at 44 per week, survey shows The Exco member also defended the Central Government’s role in the oath-taking saga, which saw pro-independence lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching disqualified from the Legislative Council after a botched swearing-in ceremony, saying the “unfortunate” event left Beijing with “no choice” but to “interfere.” “There's [a] certain line they uphold and in terms of national unity,” said Chan, who also believed the issue could have been handled by Hong Kong’ courts but suggested Beijing did not want to take that chance. Chan said the early interpretation was less “worse” than intervention if the courts decided in favour of the lawmakers.