Unless otherwise specified, the Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO) (Cap. 608) applies to every employee, his employer and the contract of employment under which he is engaged. However, MWO does not apply to interns/students who do not have employment relationship with the host organisations or companies. For details on how to distinguish the status of being an employee from a non-employee, and the statutory rights and benefits that may be enjoyed by an employee, please click here.

Statutory Minimum Wage (SMW) does not apply to specified student employees under MWO, including:

student interns; and
work experience students during a period of exempt student employment

Please click the icons below for relevant information.

For other information about SMW , please click here.

The interpretation of MWO should be based on its original text. The full text of MWO has been uploaded to the Hong Kong e-Legislation of the Department of Justice website at www.elegislation.gov.hk



The specified student interns and work experience students being exempted from MWO are required to be attending the kinds of education programmes specified under MWO. Nevertheless, the nature of internship and the requirements on the age of student employees and the duration of internship are different. Details are as follows:



Kinds of Education Programmes Enrolled
  • student employees are attending full-time accredited programmes being provided by local education institutions specified in Schedule 1 to MWO (PDF); or
  • student employees who are resident in Hong Kong and enrolled in full-time education programmes for non-local academic qualification at degree or higher level

Nature of Internship
  • arranged or endorsed by the education institutions providing the programmes; and
  • forms a compulsory or elective component of the programmes

Age and Duration of Internship
  • no restriction on age; and
  • no restriction on duration of internship

Points to Note

For records to be kept by student interns and their employers, please click here




Kinds of Education Programmes Enrolled
    Same as the requirements for student interns stated above, i.e.:
  • student employees are attending full-time accredited programmes being provided by local education institutions specified in Schedule 1 to MWO (PDF) ; or
  • student employees who are resident in Hong Kong and enrolled in full-time education programmes for non-local academic qualification at degree or higher level

Nature of Internship
  • not necessarily arranged or endorsed by the education institutions; and
  • not necessarily be curriculum-related

Age and Duration of Internship
  • under the age of 26 years at the beginning of employment; and
  • the student employee and his employer may agree to treat a continuous period of up to 59 days as exempt student employment; and at most one period of exempt student employment may commence in the same calendar year (regardless of whether the employment is with the same employer or not), and the student employee has to make a statutory declaration verifying this fact and provide the declaration (or copy) to the employer

Points to Note
  • The exemption from SMW does not apply if a work experience student has not agreed with the employer to treat a certain period as a period of exempt student employment.
  • For records to be kept by work experience students and their employers, please click here

For further exemption details, please refer to Statutory Minimum Wage : Notes for Student Employees and Employers (PDF)。

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Employers taking on student employees shall keep the following records as required under the Employment Ordinance (EO) (Cap. 57). The Labour Department has prepared specimens of such documents for reference. An education institution may issue the required document according to individual circumstances and needs.

Student Interns

  • a document or copy of a document (relevant specimen) issued by an education institution showing that the period of work is arranged or endorsed by the education institution in connection with a programme being provided by the education institution to the student intern that is of a kind covered by the definition of “student intern” in section 2 of MWO

Work Experience Students

  • a document or copy of a document (relevant specimen) issued by an education institution showing that the work experience student is at the commencement of the employment enrolled in a programme being provided by the education institution that is of a kind covered by the definition of “work experience student” in section 2 of MWO; and
  • the statutory declaration or copy of the statutory declaration (relevant specimen) provided by the work experience student verifying the fact that he has not commenced another exempt student employment period in the same calendar year

According to EO, the above records must be kept at the employer’s place of business or at the place where the student employee is employed, and they should also be kept for a period of another six months after the student employee ceases employment. For the requirements of wage and employment records under EO, please refer to A Concise Guide to the Employment Ordinance published by this Department.

Employers and student employees should keep proper records in relation to wages and the above documents to safeguard their respective rights and benefits and help avoid unnecessary disputes.

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Q1 : Why is there exemption for specified student interns and work experience students?
 
A1 : The exemption arrangements for student employees under MWO aim at striking an appropriate balance between protecting student employees from being exploited and replaced, and providing opportunities of having internship and work experience for students.
 
Q2 : What is “Student Intern”?
 
A2 : MWO is not applicable to “Student Intern”.
Pursuant to MWO, “Student Intern” means a student who fulfils the following requirements -
(a) undergoing a period of work arranged or endorsed by an education institution specified in Schedule 1 to MWO (PDF) in connection with an accredited programme being provided by the institution to the student; or
(b) residing in Hong Kong and undergoing a period of work arranged or endorsed by an institution in connection with a non-local education programme being provided by the institution to the student,
for which the work is a compulsory or elective component of the requirements for the award of the academic qualification to which the programme leads.
 
Q3 : What is “Work Experience Student”?
 
A3 : MWO is not applicable to “Work Experience Student” during a period of exempt student employment.
Pursuant to MWO, “Work Experience Student” means a student who is -
(a) enrolled in an accredited programme; or
(b) resident in Hong Kong and enrolled in a non-local education programme,
and who is engaged under a contract of employment at the beginning of which he or she is under the age of 26 years. The internship of a work experience student is not necessarily arranged or endorsed by the education institution and is not necessarily curriculum-related.
For the calculation and arrangement of the period of exempt student employment, please refer to Q6 and Q7.
 
Q4 : What is “Accredited Programme”?
 
A4 : Pursuant to MWO, “Accredited Programme” means a full-time programme that fulfils the following requirements-
(a) is provided by an education institution specified in Schedule 1 to MWO (PDF)
(b) is a learning programme of a kind described in section 1, 2 or 3 of Schedule 3 to the Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications Ordinance (Cap. 592); and
(c) if provided by a school registered or provisionally registered under the Education Ordinance (Cap. 279), is at the level of post-secondary education (within the meaning of that Ordinance).
 
Q5 : What is “Non-local Education Programme”?
 
A5 : Pursuant to MWO, “Non-local Education Programme” means a full-time programme of education which leads to the award of a non-local academic qualification which is at the level of degree or higher.
 
Q6 : How should a period of exempt student employment of work experience students be counted?
 
A6 : The work experience student and his employer may agree to treat a continuous period of up to 59 days as exempt student employment. There can only be one period of exempt student employment in the same calendar year (i.e. 1 January to 31 December). The counting of a continuous period of up to 59 days is based on calendar days and not working days.
Q7 : If the work experience student is employed for a continuous period of more than 59 days, how should his wages be calculated?
 
A7 : If the work experience student is employed for a continuous period of more than 59 days, the employer has to pay the work experience student not lower than the SMW rate for the period of employment beyond the continuous period of 59 days. Assuming a work experience student is employed from 1 August to 30 November of the same year; and the period of exempt student employment is from 1 August to 28 September (i.e. 59 days), then the work experience student is entitled to be paid not lower than the SMW rate in any wage periods during the period of employment from 29 September to 30 November.
 
Q8 : If the work experience student is having a period of exempt student employment of less than 59 days under one contract of employment, can he carry forward the remaining days to another employment contract as exempt period?
 
A8 : There can only be one period of exempt student employment which commences in the same calendar year. Even if the work experience student is having a period of exempt student employment of less than 59 days under one contract of employment, the remaining days are not allowed to be carried forward to another contract of employment in the same calendar year for the purpose of exemption, regardless of whether the employment is with the same employer or not.

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Statutory Minimum Wage : Notes for Student Employees and Employers

Samples of documents relating to exemption for student interns and work experience students

Comics of exemption for student interns and work experience students




  (It is recommended accessing the interactive games using the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari. The interactive games may encounter problems using other browsers.)
 
  Job Interview
Theme: Exemption arrangements for specified student interns and work experience students
 
     
  Statutory Minimum Wage Toy Store
Theme: Coverage of the Minimum Wage Ordinance
 

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For enquiries about the exemption arrangements for student interns and work experience students, you may call the Labour Department’s 24-hour enquiry hotline at 2717 1771 (handled by “1823”) or email to [email protected].