On 2 February 2021, the Hong Kong government announced that the statutory minimum wage (SMW) rate will remain at HK$37.50 per hour following a review by the Minimum Wage Commission. The prevailing SMW rate will continue to apply until 30 April 2023 and the next round of review will be conducted in October 2022.
In determining the SMW rate, the Minimum Wage Commission took into account a wide range of factors, including the general economic conditions, labour market conditions, social inclusion and the views of members of the public and stakeholders. The key objective is to strike an appropriate balance between forestalling excessively low wages and minimising the loss of low-paid jobs and to sustain Hong Kong's economic growth and competitiveness.
In light of the contraction of the Hong Kong economy with a business outlook clouded by uncertainties and unemployment and having considered the potential impact on the earnings of the low-paid employees and the operation costs of the businesses, the Minimum Wage Commission recommended, for the first time since its implementation in 2011, that the prevailing SMW rate be frozen.
Employers are reminded of their legal obligations under the Minimum Wage Ordinance (Cap 608). In particular, employers must ensure that their employees are paid not less than the SMW, failing which it may give rise to both civil and criminal liabilities.