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Hong Kong – Standardised working hours legislation criticised

14 February 2014

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce has announced its opposition to legislation on standard working hours, and warns that implementation will be difficult and may worsen employer-staff relations, reports thestandard.com.hk.

Chamber Chief Executive Shirley Yuen and the Chamber’s representative on the Labour Advisory Board, Emil Yu, joined representatives from various business sectors in attending a consultation forum of the Standard Working Hours Committee.

Ms Yuen commented: “It is difficult to define standard working hours for different job types. For example, working hours of pilots and doctors or disciplined forces are already different. How can we set standard working hours for different kinds of jobs?"

When asked whether exemptions could be made for some job types, Ms Yuen said with too many exemptions there would be no point in legislating on standard hours.

“It is difficult in practice”, she said. Ms Yuen blamed the long working hours for local workers on the severe labour shortage and said a law on standard hours would worsen the shortfall.

The chamber also advised that a law on standard hours would not only fail to reduce the long working hours, but would also risk lowering the flexibility of the labour market and place constraints on Hong Kong's competitiveness and economic development.

“The solution is increasing the workforce,” Ms Yuen said, calling for the principles of free-market economy that Hong Kong thrives upon to be upheld. "Rather than standardise working hours through legislation, employers and staff should draw up contracts based on the demands of work in individual sectors.”

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