Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's maiden policy address on 16 January 2013 contained some important employment, benefits and pensions law- and policy-related comments. The key items employers need to be aware of are highlighted below:
- Sexual Orientation: There will be no public consultation to discuss whether anti-discrimination law is necessary to protect people of different sexual orientation. The Government does, however, remain open to receiving views.
- Disability: The Government "will review the Commissioner for Rehabilitation's duties, responsibilities and ranking" to ensure Hong Kong's approach is consistent with that of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which Hong Kong is a signatory.
- Domestic Workers: The Employees Retraining Levy imposed on employers of Foreign Domestic Helpers will be formally abolished, effective 31 July 2013, having been suspended since 2008. There is no mention of the new United Nations Convention on Domestic Workers and whether that will be put to public consultation or subject to legislative debate during 2013.
- Paternity Leave: The Labour Advisory Board has endorsed legislation providing 3 days of paid paternity leave at 80% of pay for male employees. Legislation is imminent. There is no mention of alignment as regards the disparities between the civil service and non-civil service paternity leave employment benefits. There is also no mention of broader parenting leaves. (Please see our legal update, "LegCo to Discuss Paternity Leave Proposal", 24 January 2013.)
- Standard Working Hours: A Special Committee on Standard Working Hours will be created by the Labour and Welfare Bureau in the first quarter of 2013 to consider whether the introduction of standard working hours is appropriate for Hong Kong. This follows on from the Labour Department’s November 2012 Report of the Policy Study on Standard Working Hours.
- Pension Benefits: The recently re-instated Commission on Poverty will conduct a review of social security and retirement protection.
- Mediation: The Chief Executive noted that the Government recently set up a Steering Committee on Mediation. This follows on from the introduction of the Mediation Ordinance (Cap. 620) in June 2012. Mediation is being promoted as an increasingly popular option to resolve employment-related, and other, disputes.
To view the full policy address, see http://www.policyaddress.gov.hk/2013/eng/p120.html.