Labour Advisory Board Report 2015-2016

Chapter 2
Labour Advisory Board

2.1  Introduction
The Labour Advisory Board (LAB) is a non-statutory body appointed by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare (in exercise of the authority delegated by the Chief Executive) to advise the Commissioner for Labour on labour matters including legislation and Conventions and Recommendations of the International Labour Organisation. The Commissioner for Labour is the ex-officio chairman of LAB. LAB comprises 12 members, six representing employers and six representing employees.

LAB plays an important part in the formulation of labour policies and gives advice on labour legislation.
 
2.2  History
1927 LAB was first appointed.
  • In its early years, LAB was composed of representatives of large companies, government departments as well as the armed services. There were no employee representatives.
1946 LAB became a tripartite body, with the Labour Officer as the ex-officio chairman.
  • There were three members representing foreign employers, three representing Chinese employers and three representing employees of major companies.
  • The Labour Officer was the head of the Labour Office which was originally part of the Secretariat for Chinese Affairs. It became an independent office (the present Labour Department (LD)) in 1946.
1947 The Commissioner of Labour became the ex-officio chairman of LAB.
  • The head of LD was retitled from the Labour Officer to the Commissioner of Labour1.
1950 LAB was reconstituted and election of employee representatives was introduced for the first time.
  • Of the four members representing employers, two were nominated by employer organisations and two were appointed by the Government, one each from foreign and Chinese employers.
  • Of the four members representing employees, two were elected by trade unions by secret ballot, and the other two were appointed by the Government.
1977 The membership of LAB was increased by four to 12.
  • Of the six employer representatives, four were nominated by employer organisations and two were appointed by the Government.
  • Of the six employee representatives, three were elected by trade unions and three were appointed by the Government.
1985 The term of office of LAB was extended from one to two years and more employee representatives were elected.
  • The number of elected employee representatives was increased from three to four, and this was offset by a reduction of appointed employee representatives from three to two.
1989 The numbers of nominated employer representatives and elected employee representatives were respectively increased from four to five.
  • This was offset by a reduction in the respective numbers of appointed members on both sides to one.
1993 LAB members were entitled to honorarium and could initiate agenda items.
  • Non-official members of LAB were eligible for honorarium and could initiate agenda items to be discussed at LAB meetings.
2003 The Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour (Labour) became the ex-officio chairman of LAB.
  • In July 2003, the Labour Branch of the Economic Development and Labour Bureau merged with LD. The new organisation retained the corporate title of LD. It was headed by the Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour (Labour), who also assumed the role of the Commissioner for Labour.
2007 The Commissioner for Labour became the ex-officio chairman of LAB.
  • In July 2007, the post of the Commissioner for Labour was reinstated upon the re-organisation of the Government Secretariat. The Commissioner for Labour served as the ex-officio chairman of LAB.
2013 LAB members served on the Standard Working Hours Committee as ex-officio members by virtue of their LAB membership.
  • In April 2013, the Government set up the Standard Working Hours Committee (SWHC). SWHC comprised a chairperson and 23 members drawn from the labour and business sectors, academia, the community and the Government. Amongst them, serving LAB members sat on SWHC as ex-officio members by virtue of their LAB membership2.
1 renamed as the Commissioner for Labour in 1974
2 LAB employee members declined to attend the meetings of SWHC since the end of 2015 and on 24 November 2016 reiterated their decision of quitting SWHC in writing. The term of SWHC ended on 31 January 2017.
 
2.3  Terms of Reference
LAB advises the Commissioner for Labour on matters affecting labour, including legislation and Conventions and Recommendations of the International Labour Organisation. Where considered necessary, it may appoint committees and include any person not being a member of LAB to serve on the committees.
 
2.4  Composition
 
  Chairman: Commissioner for Labour (ex-officio)
  Members: Employer representatives
Five members nominated by major employer associations, representing separately:
  • the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce
  • the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong
  • the Employers’ Federation of Hong Kong
  • the Federation of Hong Kong Industries
  • the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce
One member appointed ad personam
Employee representatives
Five members elected by registered employee unions
One member appointed ad personam
  Secretary: A Senior Labour Officer of LD
 
2.5  Appointment for the 2015-2016 Term
An election by secret ballot was held on 29 November 2014 for the registered employee unions to elect employee representatives for the 2015-2016 term of LAB. In this election, 11 candidates vied for five seats as employee representatives on LAB. Of the 412 employee unions registered as electors, 372 took part in the voting. As one of the elected employee representatives passed away afterwards, a by-election was convened on 14 March 2015 to fill the vacant seat which was contested by three candidates. A total of 395 employee unions registered as electors in the by-election, with 323 of them turning up to vote.

On the employer side, the five major employer associations were invited in late 2014 to nominate representatives to sit on LAB. As the representative of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries passed away in June 2016, the Federation subsequently nominated another representative to serve as an employer member of LAB.

The remaining two members, one representing employers and the other representing employees, were appointed by the Government ad personam.

In the light of the above circumstances, the appointments of LAB members were published in the Government Gazette on 19 December 2014, 20 March 2015 and 15 July 2016 respectively.
 
 
Labour Advisory Board meeting
Labour Advisory Board meeting
 
2.6  Committees of LAB
To enable LAB to better cope with the enormity of matters requiring its attention, and to allow opportunities for important stakeholders outside LAB to offer advice on individual labour issues, five committees on special subject areas have been set up under LAB. They are:
  • Committee on Employees’ Compensation
  • Committee on Employment Services
  • Committee on the Implementation of International Labour Standards
  • Committee on Labour Relations
  • Committee on Occupational Safety and Health

In addition to LAB members, over 30 persons including employer and employee representatives from outside LAB, academics, professionals as well as representatives from government departments, public bodies and concern groups, etc. served on the committees.

Details of the terms of reference, composition and work of these committees are given in their relevant chapters below. Membership lists of the committees are at Appendices I to V.