Employment Law in Hong Kong

The employer-employee relationship is not only considered in economic terms, but is also a relationship of mutual dependency. Both the employers and the employees have moral as well as legal obligations arising from this relationship.


A contract of employment is an agreement on the terms and conditions of employment made between an employer and an employee. The agreement can be made orally or in writing and includes both express and implied terms. The Labour Department encourages employers and employees to set out terms and conditions in written employment contracts. An employment contract must be made in accordance with the common law and relevant statutory requirements. 

As stipulated by the Employment Ordinance (Cap 57) (“EO”), an employer must clearly inform each of the employees of the conditions of employment under which they are to be employed with regard to:
  • Wages (including rate of wages, overtime rate and any allowance);
  • Wage period;
  • Length of notice required to terminate the contract; and
  • the end of year payment or proportion and the payment period (if any).
If there is a breach of material term by the employer, the employee may resign and claim constructive dismissal. If the breach of a material term is on the side of the employee, the employer is also able to dismiss an employee fairly. 

The EO does not provide a definition of full time or part time employment. A continuous contract of employment is an employment by the same employer for four weeks or more, for at least eighteen hours a week.
All employees are covered by the EO, irrespective of the number of hours they work in each week, and are entitled to basic protection under the EO including wage protection, statutory holidays and protection against anti-union discrimination. Employees employed under continuous contracts are entitled to further benefits including rest days, paid annual leave, sickness allowance, long service payment, severance payment, etc.

November 2015

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