News & Insights

Employment Law Review

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

In this Review, we provide a snapshot of the most significant Hong Kong employment laws introduced in 2019, as well as those that are likely to come up in 2020.

Employment Law changes in 2020

New developments on employment law may take place during 2020 or the ensuing years. Here are some of the most noteworthy:

The Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018

TheDiscrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018 (Miscellaneous Amendments Bill), which was gazetted on 30 November 2018, seeks to enhance protection against discrimination and harassment by amending the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO), and the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO). The First and Second Reading of the Bill took place in December 2018.

On 29 November 2019, in response to the follow-up actions of the Bills Committee of the Legislative Council, the government proposed to make further amendments to the Miscellaneous AmendmentsBill in the following areas:

  • To include “intern and volunteer” in the definition of “workplace participant” under the SDO, DDO and RDO, so as to protect them against sexual, disability and racial harassment by other workplace participants.
  • To introduce a separate bill to amend the SDO to provide for the protection of harassment on the ground of breastfeeding. To expedite the legislative exercise, the government has initiated the drafting process.

The Bills Committee on the Miscellaneous Amendments Bill met on 9 December 2019 to scrutinise the proposed amendments. Should the Bill pass, the new amendments will have implications for gender, family, productivity and economics.

The Employment (Amendment) Bill 2019: Maternity leave

Commencement of the Second Reading debate of the Amendment Bill took place in the Legislative Council on 8 January 2020 and further debate will take place on 15 January 2020. The Amendment Bill may be implemented in 2021 or sooner. Employers should keep abreast of the development and prepare for the necessary measures to ensure compliance with the amended EO once it comes into effect.

Proposed abolition of the MPF offsetting mechanism

In the 2018 Policy Address, the government proposed that the MPF offsetting mechanism should be abolished and the government would devote further resources to incentivise the abolition of the MPF offsetting mechanism:

  • The government would reserve HK$29.3 billion for subsidising businesses for SP/LSP.
  • The transitional subsidy period would be 25 years.
  • In the event that the amount of aggregate benefits (severance payment/long service payment entitlement together with the accrued MPF benefits) of individual employees is smaller than the amount that they would otherwise receive under the MPF offsetting mechanism, the government would make up for the shortfall.

On 29 December 2019, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Law Chi Kwong, said that the legislative drafting in relation to the abolition of the MPF offsetting mechanism is already underway with the aim of introducing it to the Legislative Council by the end of 2020. Businesses, in particular micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, should keep watch on further developments and make appropriate plans to mitigate the potential impacts of the forthcoming legislative changes.

Key Contacts

Cynthia Chung

Partner | Corporate Commercial | Employment and Pensions

Email or call +852 2825 9297

Related Services and Sectors:

Corporate and M&A, Employment and Pensions

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