Employment and labor laws and leave policy in Hong Kong are rooted in The Employment Ordinance, which lays out key employment principles such as wage payment, deductions from wages restrictions, guaranteed holidays, and hours of work. It also governs other significant facets of the employee-employer relationship to ensure equitable working conditions.
Employees in Hong Kong have the right to 7-14 days' annual leave after 12 months of work. With 14 days' advance notification, employers decide when this leave will be taken. The annual leave policy in Hong Kong is based on an employee's length of service:
- 1-3 years: 7 days of leave
- 3 -4 years: 8 days of leave
- 4-5 years: 9 days of leave
- 5-6 years: 10 days of leave
- 6-7 years: 11 days of leave
- 7-8 years: 12 days of leave
- 8-9 years: 13 days of leave
- Over 9 years: 14 days of leave
Employers in Hong Kong must grant paid annual leave within 12 months of the end of the leave year. Usually, they allow workers to take it as soon as it is accrued. Employers may choose to make the "leave year" align with the anniversary of an employee's commencement of work, or a common period, such as calendar or fiscal years.
Generally, annual leave is taken in one continuous period. If requested, however, it can be split into two parts:
- Leave entitlements of up to 10 days may take place over three separate days
- Leave entitlements of more than 10 days require at least seven consecutive days
The rate of annual leave pay for a day equals the average daily wages an employee earned in the 12 months leading up to their leave. If an employee has worked for less than 12 months, the calculation is based on that period instead. An employer must exclude certain unpaid periods when calculating daily wages — rest days, statutory holidays, annual leave, sickness days, and more — as well as payments made to employees during these times.
Employees must receive holiday pay on their usual payday following any period of annual leave.
For more information beyond annual leave in Hong Kong, refer to Skuad's Hong Kong hiring guide.
Public Holidays in Hong Kong
Employees in Hong Kong are entitled to 13 statutory holidays. These include:
- New Year's Day
- Lunar New Year and the following two days (three days total)
- Ching Ming Festival
- Labor Day
- Tuen Ng Festival (Dragon Boat Festival)
- HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) Establishment Day
- The day after the Chinese Mid-autumn Festival
- Chung Yeung Festival
- National Day
- Either Chinese Winter Solstice or Christmas, at the employer's discretion
- The Birthday of Buddha, which falls on the eighth day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar
There are five extra general holidays outside of the government-mandated statutory ones in Hong Kong. These include:
- Good Friday and the day following (two days total)
- Easter Monday
- Christmas Day and the weekday after (two days total).
All banks and educational establishments must observe these holidays, as well as public offices and government departments. However, these are unpaid holidays.
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Types of Leave Policies in Hong Kong
Below are the types of leave entitlements (other than annual leaves) for workers in Hong Kong.
Sick Leave in Hong Kong
Employees in Hong Kong accumulate two paid sick leave credits each month during the first year of their contract and four afterward. Sick days can build up over time, though workers may not accumulate more than 120 at once.
Employees employed under a continuous contract are eligible for sickness allowance if they have taken at least four consecutive days of leave (female employees' absences related to pregnancy checkups, post-confinement medical treatment, or miscarriage are counted). In addition, the employee must have accrued an appropriate number of paid sick days. Furthermore, they may be asked to provide evidence supporting the leave, depending on their circumstances. This could range from a medical certificate or proof that they were following movement restrictions imposed due to anti-epidemic measures as provided under relevant laws.
These 120 sick leaves are divided into two categories. The first 36 days are Category 1, and the rest are Category 2. For taking paid sickness days under Category 1, employees must provide a medical certificate from a qualified healthcare professional. For Category 2, the employer may also require workers to submit a record of any investigations and treatments prescribed by their doctor to support the extension of the sick leave beyond Category 1's 36 days.
Maternity Leave in Hong Kong
Female employees continuously employed by the same employer for four weeks or more and working over 18 hours per week can receive 14 weeks of paid maternity leave when they give birth. If delivery is after their expected date, they are allowed extra days equal to the number of days between their due date and the actual day of delivery. Employees also have access to up to 4 additional weeks off if pregnancy or delivery-related illness/disability occurs.
Employees qualify for maternity leave pay if they have been on a steady contract for at least 40 weeks before their scheduled leave. The additional four weeks' pay will be four-fifths of the worker's average daily salary, with a limit of $80,000. Employers can apply to the government to get this money reimbursed.
No compensation other than additional leave days (such as extra pay) is offered in lieu of maternity time off work. Employers and employees must agree on when the absence will begin (at a minimum of two weeks ahead and up to four). Finally, women who suffer miscarriages past 24 weeks are also given maternal entitlements as long as they meet other criteria.
Breastfeeding Break Leave in Hong Kong
These are breaks in work and not "leaves," per se.
Starting from June 12, 2021, women in Hong Kong are protected from being discriminated against due to breastfeeding under the SDO (Sex Discrimination Ordinance). This means it is illegal for employers to treat females differently because they breastfeed during specified conditions mandated by the law.
As a result of this, employers must implement three main policies:
- Allow regular lactation breaks (a minimum of two 30-minute intervals over an eight-hour shift) that extend to at least one year post-childbirth, with flexible scheduling beyond this period.
- Create a private space with necessary amenities like an appropriate chair, suitable table, and electric socket for breast milk pumps.
- Make sure a refrigerator is available nearby where milk can be stored conveniently (pantry fridges are accepted).
Paternity Leave in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, soon-to-be or new fathers can take advantage of paternity leave if they meet the specified criteria, which include:
- Being employed under a continuous contract for at least four weeks, working at least 18 hours per week
- Providing notice to their employer
New fathers are entitled to five days of paid paternity leave upon confinement of their partner. They may use these days in one batch or on different occasions between four weeks before the expected delivery date and up to 14 weeks post-delivery.
Male employees are eligible for paternity leave pay after 40 weeks of continual employment. To qualify, the employee must deliver the required documentation to their employer within 12 months from the first day of paternity leave OR give notice that they will not work for six months after leaving. The rate for each day of leave is four-fifths of an average daily wage earned throughout a 12-month period preceding the start date. If the new father is employed for less than 12 months, their current employment period is used as a reference point.
In cases where a child is stillborn or dies shortly after birth, employees do not need a birth certificate but rather an evidence with a written statement and medical certificate proving fatherhood and events leading up to the baby's delivery/passing away — upon request by their employer.
Adoption Leave in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has no statutory guidelines on adoption leave. However, due to its importance, employers in Hong Kong are finding ways to accommodate adoptive parents the way they would biological ones.
Therefore, adoption leave in Hong Kong will rely entirely on the agreement between employer and employee.
Additional Special Leave Policy in Hong Kong
Employees in Hong Kong can access leaves with pay for special occasions:
- Marriage leave: The common practice is 3 days on the first occasion of marriage.
- Bereavement or compassionate leave: three days paid
- Education purposes: for exams at secondary or tertiary level educational institutions, employees are entitled to two paid days off for each exam taken with a maximum of 10 day's worth annually
There are no provisions for jury duty or voting leave in Hong Kong.
Easily navigate leave policy in Hong Kong with Skuad
Getting it right from the start is key when setting up leave policies in Hong Kong and ensuring you abide by all local labor laws. Fortunately, Skuad makes the process easy with its dependable global employment and payroll service.
Skuad offers a one-stop platform for those looking to understand every aspect of leave policy in Hong Kong. We help guide you through local labor laws and complex international hiring processes like calculating parental leave allowances or managing freelancers who may reside outside of Hong Kong but need to meet certain requirements set out by regulatory bodies.
Don't get bogged down by all the red tape — book a demo today. Let Skuad do the heavy lifting so that you can focus on running your business without worrying about any international employee benefits stipulations in Hong Kong.