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Hong Kong: Minimum Wage Law Takes Effect

(May 17, 2011) On May 1, 2011, Hong Kong's Minimum Wage Ordinance took effect; under it a HK$28 (about US$3.6) per hour minimum wage rate is enforced. (Minimum Wage Ordinance (Cap. 608), Hong Kong Department of Justice Bilingual Laws Information System (last visited May 11, 2011).)

The Ordinance was passed by Hong Kong's Legislative Council on July 17, 2010. (Minimum Wage Enforced in Hong Kong, XINHUANET (May 1, 2011).) Under the Ordinance, the Provisional Minimum Wage Commission was established; it recommended the initial statutory minimum wage rate. The rate was adopted and proposed by the executive branch in November 2010. (Press Release, Chief Executive-in-Council Adopts Initial Statutory Minimum Wage Rate, GOVHK (Nov. 10, 2010).)

The Ordinance applies to all employees in Hong Kong with certain prescribed exceptions, such as live-in domestic workers, student interns, and work experience students during a period of exempt student employment (Ordinance, ยง 7).

The Ordinance has been highly debated before and after its promulgation. Business groups are concerned over the increased costs that are likely to result, as well as the potential financial implications of paid meal breaks and rest days. Organizations representing the interests of workers argue that the legislation does not go far enough to improve the lot of low-paid workers in Hong Kong. (Hong Kong SMEs Express Concerns over Statutory Minimum Wage, PERSONAL BUSINESS TAX GUIDE (May 11, 2011).) Soon after the Ordinance became effective, several legislators proposed a motion on temporarily suspending the implementation of the Ordinance, which was scheduled for discussion in the Legislative Council on May 11, 2011. (Press Release, LegCo to Debate a Motion on Temporarily Suspending the Implementation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance, GOVHK (May 9, 2011).) This motion was denied by the Legislative Council. (Zanhuan Fading Zuidi Gongzi Zaocheng Gengduo Hunluan [Temporarily Suspending the Statutory Minimum Wage Would Cause More Chaos] [Chinese only], GOVHK (May 11, 2011).)