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Chapter 3
Labour Relations

The Programme of Labour Relations
www.labour.gov.hk/eng/labour/content.htm
 
3.1 In Hong Kong, employer and employee relations are largely premised on the stipulations of various pieces of labour laws, and the terms and conditions of employment agreed and entered into between the two parties. Employers and employees are free to form trade unions and participate in union activities. The objective of the Labour Relations Programme is to maintain and promote harmonious labour relations in establishments outside the government sector. We achieve this by:
giving advice on matters relating to conditions of employment, requirements of relevant labour legislation, and good people management practices;
providing voluntary conciliation service to help employers and employees resolve their employment claims and disputes;
promoting understanding of labour laws and encouraging good people management practices;
adjudicating minor employment claims speedily through the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board (MECAB); and
registering trade unions and their rules, organising courses and conducting inspections and visits to trade unions to bring about sound and responsible trade union administration.
 
3.2 The principal legislation administered by this programme area includes the Employment Ordinance (EO), the Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO), the Labour Relations Ordinance (LRO), the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board Ordinance (MECABO) and the Trade Unions Ordinance (TUO).
 
3.3 EO sets the basic standard on the conditions of employment that establishments outside the government sector have to meet. MWO establishes a Statutory Minimum Wage regime. The procedures for settling labour disputes in establishments outside the government sector are provided for in LRO. MECABO establishes the machinery known as MECAB to adjudicate minor employment claims when settlement cannot be achieved by conciliation. For the regulation of trade unions, TUO provides a statutory framework for trade union registration and administration.
 
Our Work and Achievements in 2015
Key indicators of Work
3.4 Some key indicators of work of the Labour Relations Programme Area were contained in Figure 3.1.
 
Implementation of new employees' benefits
3.5 Statutory paternity leave took effect on February 27, 2015. Eligible male employees are entitled to three days' paternity leave with pay for each confinement of their spouse/partner. To tie in with the implementation of statutory paternity leave, we have launched a comprehensive publicity programme to publicise the stipulations of the new legislation.
 
3.6 In 2015, we introduced a bill into the Legislative Council to designate, on a one-off basis, September 3, 2015 as both a statutory holiday and a general holiday. The day was the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese people's war of resistance against Japanese aggression. The bill was passed by the Legislative Council.
 
Conciliation and Consultation Services
3.7 Our consultation and conciliation services are conducive to the sound record of industrial relations in Hong Kong. In 2015, the labour relations scene remained generally stable. We held 63 551 consultation meetings, handled 14 388 claims and 53 labour disputes in the year. The number of labour disputes and claims that need to be handled in 2015 dropped by 9% compared with the figure of 15 832 cases in 2014. Over 70% of cases with conciliation service rendered were settled in the year. In 2015, the Labour Department (LD) handled two strikes. The average number of working days lost due to strike per thousand salaried employees and wage earners was 0.03, which is among the lowest in the world. (Figures 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7)
 
Strengthening Tripartite Co-operation
3.8 LD runs nine industry-based tripartite committees, covering catering, construction, theatre, logistics, property management, printing, hotel and tourism, cement and concrete, and retail industries, to promote tripartite dialogue and collaboration at the industry level with a view to fostering harmonious labour relations among employers, employees and the government. These tripartite committees provide effective forums for members to discuss issues of common concern to their industries. Employment related matters such as statutory paternity leave under EO, good people management, family-friendly employment practices, measures to tackle the decline in labour force as well as latest development of Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes were deliberated in the year. We also arranged an organisation visit cum sharing session for representatives of employers' associations, employers and trade unions of various industries to enhance communication and understanding among the parties concerned.
 
Promotion of Good Employer-Employee Relations
3.9 To enhance public understanding of EO and to promote good people management measures, we organised various promotional activities and published free publications covering different themes for employers, employees, human resources professionals and the public. Relevant information was also disseminated through LD's homepage and the media. In the year, six roving exhibitions on EO, good people management and family-friendly employment practices were organised over the territory. A new set of television and radio Announcements in the Public Interest was produced to encourage employers to foster a favourable environment for the employment of mature persons. Furthermore, we widely publicised messages on good people management as well as statutory employees' rights and protection through extensive network of employers' associations and trade unions.
 
Television Announcement in the Public Interest to call on employers to adopt friendly employment practices for mature persons
Television Announcement in the Public Interest to call on
employers to adopt friendly employment practices for mature persons
 
3.10 We organised a number of experience-sharing sessions and briefings and published newsletters regularly for members of 18 human resources managers' clubs established in different trades to promote good people management measures. We also published newspaper articles, and placed advertisements in public transport network and periodic journals of major employers' associations and trade union federations to encourage adoption of "employee-oriented" employment practices and cultivate a family-friendly working environment. In the year, we introduced a casebook on successful experiences of engaging mature persons and implementing family-friendly employment practices, and a thematic leaflet on promoting employment of mature persons as well as family-friendly employment practical guidelines for the catering industry.
 
Publications promoting the Employment Ordinance, friendly employment practices for mature persons and families
Publications promoting the Employment Ordinance,
friendly employment practices for mature persons and families
 
Adjudication of Minor Employment Claims
3.11 MECAB provides a speedy, informal and inexpensive adjudication service to members of the public. It is empowered to determine employment claims involving not more than 10 claimants for a sum not exceeding $8,000 per claimant.
 
3.12 In 2015, MECAB recorded 1 041 claims amounting to $4,405,696 and concluded 1 054 claims with a total award of $2,487,323.
 
Administration of Trade Unions
3.13 The Registry of Trade Unions (RTU) is responsible for administering TUO and Trade Union Registration Regulations. Its major areas of work include registering trade unions and their rules, examining trade unions' annual statements of account and any other returns required by the law to be furnished to RTU, organising courses on trade union legislation and fundamental trade union account management for trade unions and conducting inspections and visits to trade unions to facilitate trade unions to manage union affairs in accordance with the law and their respective rules.
 
3.14 In 2015, 14 new trade unions and two trade union federations were registered, making up a cumulative total of 885 trade unions (comprising 821 employee unions, 16 employers' associations, 37 mixed organisations of employees and employers and 11 trade union federations) registered under TUO. Please refer to the following webpage for the key trade union statistics:www.labour.gov.hk/eng/labour/content3.htm.
 
3.15 In the year, RTU examined 805 annual statements of account and conducted 367 inspections and visits to trade unions with a view to promoting sound and responsible trade union administration. To facilitate trade union officers in acquiring knowledge of union legislation and management, RTU organised four courses on trade union bookkeeping, auditing and trade union management and legislation.