Latest updates

Amendment to anti-discrimination ordinances
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 28 October 2020

In June 2020 the Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2020 came into effect. The enhanced protections commenced with immediate effect, save for those relating to breastfeeding, which are expected to come into force on 19 June 2021. As a result, the existing anti-discrimination ordinances have been or will be amended to extend protection against discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding and strengthen protection against unlawful discrimination and harassment.

More funding for Employment Support Scheme
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 21 October 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government introduced an HK$80 billion Employment Support Scheme to provide a wage subsidy to eligible employers for six months in exchange for them refraining from making any redundancies during the subsidy period and using the subsidy to pay employees' wages. The government recently announced the introduction of a third round of the anti-epidemic fund. The HK$24 billion package will assist specific industries and people who are most affected by the pandemic.

Personal data and privacy guidelines for employers and employees
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 14 October 2020

As part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have had to collect and disseminate information about their employees. This has given rise to concerns regarding data privacy. The privacy commissioner for personal data recently issued guidelines for employers on the collection, processing and use of personal data during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Protection under Employees' Compensation Ordinance for employees who contract COVID-19
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 07 October 2020

Under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (ECO), employers are generally liable to pay compensation to employees who sustain an injury or die as a result of an accident arising out of and in the course of their employment, or suffer from an occupational disease specified in the Second Schedule of the ECO. The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for employers and employees, including whether COVID-19 falls within the scope of protections afforded by employee compensation legislation.

Employers' guide to Employment Support Scheme
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 24 June 2020

To tackle the unemployment and loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has introduced an HK$80 billion Employment Support Scheme (ESS) as part of the second round of anti-pandemic relief measures. The ESS aims to provide time-limited financial support in the form of wage subsidies to eligible employers to allow them to retain employees.

Hong Kong employment issues arising from coronavirus disease
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 11 March 2020

On 4 February 2020 Hong Kong reported its first fatality relating to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which originated in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 has caused serious disruption to the Hong Kong economy and has had a considerable impact on the workforce. This article sets out some of the key issues that employers should consider in dealing with the outbreak, particularly with regard to discrimination, data privacy issues and employees' right to refuse work.

Hong Kong protests: employment issues
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 30 October 2019

Since June 2019, Hong Kong has faced ongoing protest action. These protests were initially directed at the enactment of the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill, but their scope has subsequently expanded. This situation has created serious challenges for employers trying to manage and protect their employees. As these protests continue, employers must understand what they can and cannot do.

How does the GDPR affect Hong Kong employers?
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 28 August 2019

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in the European Union in 2018. At its core, the GDPR aims to give individuals more control over the way in which their personal data is collected, retained, managed and processed. Despite being an EU regulation, the GDPR's application extends to companies in Hong Kong and employers there should thus be aware of what they must do to comply with it.

Overturning lower court's decision – Court of Final Appeal hands down milestone judgment to LGBT community
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 10 July 2019

The Court of Final Appeal recently handed down a landmark judgment in favour of the LGBT community. Employers are recommended to review their policies to ensure that they are in line with the principles laid down in the decision. In particular, employers should ensure that spousal employment benefits (eg, those set out in employment contracts) also apply to same-sex spouses, in addition to opposite-sex spouses.

When 'wages' mean more than just your salary
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 03 April 2019

In Hong Kong, an employment contract can be terminated by either the employer or the employee by giving the other party notice or making a payment in lieu of notice. A payment in lieu of notice is calculated by reference to the average daily wages earned by the employee in the 12 months preceding the day on which notice of termination is given. It is therefore important to understand what is meant by 'wages' under the Employment Ordinance.

Labour Tribunal orders claimant to provide security payment – speed bump for parties with weak claims
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 30 January 2019

Since 2014 the Labour Tribunal has had the power to order parties to provide security for awards or orders. The grounds for making such an order are relatively broad and give the tribunal considerable discretion. However, there has been little case law on how this discretion should be exercised. A recent Court of First Instance decision sheds some light on this area of law.

HKIA launches public consultation to update its guidelines
  • Insurance
  • Hong Kong
  • 08 January 2019

The Hong Kong Insurance Authority (HKIA) will take over the regulation of insurance intermediaries from the three self-regulatory organisations in mid-2019. Given that there are several sets of competence standards across these organisations, it is necessary to consolidate and update them in line with the statutory requirements to improve protection for policyholders. As such, the HKIA recently held a public consultation on two guidelines under the Insurance Ordinance (Cap 41).

Court limits scope of non-solicitation restrictions
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 21 November 2018

A Hong Kong court recently considered the enforcement of a non-solicitation clause against an employee who was employed as a delivery worker. The court's observations in this case as regards the enforceability of non-solicitation clauses reiterate the well-established position that employers have no right to be protected against competition per se.

Could moonlighting employees be breaching more than just their employment contracts?
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 03 October 2018

In Hong Kong, there is an increasing emphasis on the importance of reciprocal duties of trust and confidence between employers and employees. 'Moonlighting' employees (even ones who take up ancillary employment with a non-direct competitor) often sit in a legally precarious position, since questions are bound to arise in relation to their fiduciary duties, restrictive covenants and the implied term of trust and confidence.

Hong Kong reinsurers to receive preferential treatment from Chinese regulators
  • Insurance
  • Hong Kong
  • 11 September 2018

The Hong Kong Insurance Authority (HKIA) has achieved a consensus with the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission that the latter will provide preferential treatment to Hong Kong reinsurers by reducing the reinsurance credit risk requirement under China's Risk-Oriented Solvency System for mainland insurers that use Hong Kong reinsurers authorised by the HKIA. This new arrangement should improve Hong Kong's credentials as an Asian reinsurance hub.

Preventing employment discrimination versus upholding status of marriage
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 15 August 2018

The Basic Law states that "the freedom of marriage of Hong Kong residents and their right to raise a family freely shall be protected by law". This protection is understood to be limited to marriage between monogamous heterosexual couples, which has led to debate on the equal treatment of homosexual couples. The principal issue is that treating same-sex relationships differently is discriminatory. The Court of Appeal recently considered this issue from an employment perspective.

Hong Kong Insurance Authority launches consultation on draft enterprise risk management guideline
  • Insurance
  • Hong Kong
  • 10 July 2018

The Hong Kong Insurance Authority recently released a draft guideline on enterprise risk management as part of Hong Kong's move towards a risk-based capital regime. The draft guideline considers the recent consultation and review of the relevant insurance core principles by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors and aims to nurture a strong risk culture which reflects the values, attitudes and norms of business behaviour.

First Conduct Rule breaches: not just anti-competitive, but illegal
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 20 June 2018

The Competition Commission recently issued an advisory bulletin on the potential risks that could arise under the Competition Ordinance (Cap 619) in the employment context. The commission identified a number of practices between employers which are at risk of contravening the First Conduct Rule of the ordinance – specifically, wage-fixing and non-poaching agreements and the exchange of sensitive information.

With great power comes great responsibility
Howse Williams 何韋律師行
  • Employment & Immigration
  • Hong Kong
  • 30 May 2018

In a recent case, a senior employee was found to have acted as a de facto director of the plaintiff company as a result of her position and responsibilities within the company. Consequently, the employee was held to have breached the fiduciary duties which she owed to the company by diverting business opportunities away from it and making unauthorised use of its resources.

Lawmakers building HK$1 million safety net for policyholders
  • Insurance
  • Hong Kong
  • 22 May 2018

Lawmakers recently met to discuss a new bill to establish a policyholders' protection scheme to protect policyholders' interests in case an insurer becomes insolvent. This safety net will cover individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises and building owners' corporations. All authorised insurers in Hong Kong will have to participate and pay an initial levy to build up the two compensation funds – namely, the life fund (for long-term policies) and the non-life fund (for general policies).