Date
18 October 2017
Employees work 47 hours a week on average while most have to work more than 40 hours, according to a 2012 report by the Labor Department. Photo: Bloomberg
Employees work 47 hours a week on average while most have to work more than 40 hours, according to a 2012 report by the Labor Department. Photo: Bloomberg

Hong Kong SMEs face losses under standard working hours

Hong Kong employers face more than HK$10 billion (US$1.29 billion) in annual overtime costs if a bill on standard working hours is passed by the legislature.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be hardest hit, according to a government-appointed committee that studied the proposal.

The study was released Wednesday by the Standard Working Hours Committee (SWHC). 

It shows that employers will pay an extra HK$10.3 billion in salaries if their employees who make less than HK$15,000 a month put in 1.5 hours of overtime, Apple Daily reports.

Almost 7,000 SMEs which employ 187,000 workers will end up in the red, according to the study.

A 2012 report by the Labor Department said employees work 47 hours a week on average while most have to work more than 40 hours.   

The new findings show that under a standard working hours scheme, employees will earn up to 9.5 percent more if their total working hours are unchanged.  

However, if they work no more than the standard hours, they could see their income drop by as much as 15.8 percent.

SWHC chairman Edward Leong said the committee agreed to certain changes if a single standard is adopted.

However, it left specifics on working hours and overtime to individual companies and employees.

Leung Chau-ting, a member of the Labor Advisory Board representing employees unions, said employers will find ways to cover the extra cost such raising prices for their products or service.

He is skeptical the study will convince employers to embrace standard working hours.   

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TL/AC/RA

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