HONG KONG - Hong Kong's minimum wage ordinance takes effect from May 1, as a milestone for protection of the grass-root labor rights in the city.
According to the ordinance, wages payable to an employee in respect of any wage period, when averaged over the total number of hours worked during that time, should be no less than the statutory minimum wage rate of HK$28 ($3.6).
Employees are covered by the statutory minimum wage, regardless of whether they are monthly-rated, daily-rated, casual or part-time, and whether or not they are employed under a continuous contract as defined in the Employment Ordinance.
The minimum wage applies to the disabled, but is not applicable to live-in domestic workers, student interns and work-experience students.
Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Labor and Welfare of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, said on May 1 that he is quite sure that with everybody working together, statutory minimum wage should be successfully implemented in Hong Kong.
The Labor Department of the HKSAR government stressed that employers and employees should negotiate on the issue, while critics said that is not really reasonable because the employers have all of the power.
"Our message to the employers is loud and clear", Chung said on a radio show, "Given the new situation, employers should engage in candid, frank and sincere dialogue with the employees in order to iron out any differences. It is only in their own interest to have a workforce with high morale, high productivity and commitment."
The ordinance was passed by the city's Legislative Council on July 17, 2010, to form a statutory minimum wage regime that strikes a balance between forestalling excessively low wages and minimizing the loss of low-paid jobs while sustaining Hong Kong's economic growth and competitiveness.
The Labor Department has released the Statutory Minimum Wage Reference Guidelines for Employers & Employees. Inspectors will explain to employers and employees the requirements of the law and distribute leaflets on the statutory minimum wage for their reference. The employment conditions of workers will also be checked and follow-up action taken if necessary.