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Discrimination Bitesize (26 January 2011)

26 January 2011
Mayer Brown Newsletter

1. What is the dedicated anti-discrimination legislation in Hong Kong?

Discrimination on the grounds of an individual's sex, marital status, pregnancy, disability, family status and race is unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO) and Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO). However, not all acts of discrimination are unlawful. Currently, discrimination on the grounds of (among others) age, religious beliefs or sexual orientation is not unlawful in Hong Kong.

2. Is there any other legislation in Hong Kong prohibiting discrimination?

In addition to the SDO, DDO, FSDO and RDO, there are various other legislation that also prohibit discrimination as an incidental part of the purpose of such legislation. For example, the Employment Ordinance prohibits discrimination in relation to trade union membership and activities; the Jury Ordinance punishes an employer who discriminates against an employee by reason of the employee serving or having served on a jury; and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance provides (among other things) that failure by an individual to disclose a "spent conviction" will not be a lawful or proper ground for dismissing or excluding the individual from employment or prejudicing him in any way in that employment.

3. Who can engage in unlawful discrimination?

The anti-discrimination legislation applies to (among others) employers (which will be the focus of our Bitesize series); partnerships; organisations of workers or employers or professional or trade organisations; qualifying bodies; persons concerned with provisions of vocational training; employment agencies; principals of commission agents; those providing goods, facilities, services and premises; public bodies; barristers and clubs. In the context of employment, the discrimination must take place at an establishment in Hong Kong (explained below).

4. What amounts to employment at an establishment in Hong Kong?

For the purposes of the SDO, DDO, FSDO and RDO, employment will be regarded as being at an establishment in Hong Kong unless the employee does his or her work wholly or mainly outside Hong Kong.

Employment on board a ship registered in Hong Kong or employment on an aircraft or a dynamically supported craft registered in Hong Kong and operated by a person whose principal place of business is in Hong Kong or who is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong will be regarded as being employment at an establishment in Hong Kong unless the employee does his or her work wholly outside Hong Kong.

In the case of employment on board a ship registered in Hong Kong (except where the employee does his or her work wholly outside Hong Kong) the ship is deemed to be the establishment.

Where work is not done at an establishment, it will be treated as done at the establishment from which it is done or (where it is not done from any establishment) at the establishment with which it has the closest connection.

If you are interested in receiving our "Discrimination Bitesize" articles, or if you have any questions on anti-discrimination law, please email to to register.

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