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Hong Kong

Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Hong Kong

Standard working hours

In Hong Kong, there isn't a single, mandated standard for working hours. However, regulations are in place that provide a framework for employers and employees.

There's no single, legally mandated standard workweek in Hong Kong according to the Labour Department. This means the number of hours constituting a "standard" workweek can vary depending on the industry, employment contract, and company policy.

The Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) protects young workers by regulating their working hours. For children aged 13 to 15, they are prohibited from working in industrial undertakings. Young persons aged 15 to 18 are restricted to a maximum of 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week in industrial undertakings.

"Industrial undertakings" is a legal term encompassing various workplaces, so it's essential to consult the ordinance for a comprehensive definition.

These are just some of the key regulations. Always refer to the Labour Department or consult a legal professional for the latest information and comprehensive details.


In Hong Kong, while there's no legal mandate for a standard workweek or regulation of overtime hours, there are specific rules regarding compensation for overtime work.

The Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) doesn't require employers to offer overtime work. The decision to have employees work overtime lies with the employer, and employing someone for extended hours doesn't automatically entitle them to overtime pay.

The key factor determining compensation for overtime work is the employment contract. The ordinance emphasizes that any terms within the contract outlining overtime pay become legally binding. This means employers must adhere to the agreed-upon overtime pay rates as stipulated in the contract.

There's no statutory minimum wage for overtime work in Hong Kong. The amount of overtime pay is negotiated between the employer and employee and clearly stated within the employment contract.

Although there's no legal minimum, recommended best practices suggest the following for overtime pay rates:

  • Regular Working Days: At least 1.5 times the employee's basic hourly rate
  • Rest Days: At least double the employee's basic hourly rate, if compensatory time off isn't provided
  • Statutory Holidays: At least triple the employee's basic hourly rate

Following these recommendations ensures fair compensation for overtime work.

While employers can request overtime work, employees have the right to refuse unreasonable overtime requests. What constitutes "unreasonable" can depend on various factors, including:

  • The employee's workload and fatigue levels.
  • Prior notice given by the employer about the overtime request.
  • The employee's personal circumstances (e.g., childcare responsibilities).

If an employee feels pressured into unreasonable overtime, they can seek advice from the Labour Department.

Rest periods and breaks

In Hong Kong, there is no statutory right to rest breaks during working hours for most adult employees. The Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) doesn't guarantee mandated rest breaks for adult employees during their workday. However, the ordinance places a duty on employers to ensure, "so far as reasonably practicable, the safety and health of their employees at work". This indirectly encourages employers to provide reasonable breaks to prevent employee fatigue and promote workplace safety.

There are exceptions for young workers. The Employment Ordinance offers protections for young workers by mandating rest breaks. Children aged 13 to 15 are prohibited from working in industrial undertakings. Young persons aged 15 to 18 are entitled to a minimum rest break of one-hour and half-hour break respectively, after five hours of continuous work in industrial undertakings.

Although not mandated by law, providing rest breaks is a common practice in Hong Kong. Typically, a one-hour lunch break is offered, though its paid or unpaid status depends on the employment contract. In physically demanding jobs, short breaks throughout the morning and afternoon are customary.

Offering rest breaks can benefit both employers and employees. Breaks can help employees recharge and return to work with renewed focus and energy. They can help prevent fatigue-related accidents and injuries. Demonstrating concern for employee well-being can foster a positive work environment.

Night shift and weekend regulations

Hong Kong's labor laws do not have specific regulations solely for night shifts or weekend work. However, the Employment Ordinance provides a framework that indirectly affects night and weekend work practices.

Employers have the flexibility to schedule night shifts and weekend work as per business needs. The ordinance does not prohibit or limit the number of night shifts or weekend days an employee can be assigned.

The key factor governing night and weekend work arrangements is the employment contract. The ordinance emphasizes that any terms within the contract outlining working hours and compensation become legally binding. This includes:

  • Night Shift Allowances: The contract may stipulate additional pay or benefits for night shifts to compensate for the disruption to usual sleep patterns.
  • Weekend Work: Weekend work may be included as part of the employee's regular working hours as outlined in the contract.

Employees should carefully review their contracts to understand their entitlements for night and weekend work.

One crucial aspect to consider is the mandatory rest day entitlement. The ordinance guarantees employees at least one rest day of at least 24 hours in every seven-day period. This rest day doesn't necessarily have to fall on a Saturday or Sunday, but employers must provide this designated rest period.

While the regulations are flexible, consider these recommended practices:

  • Shift Rosters: Providing employees with clear shift rosters in advance allows them to plan their personal lives accordingly.
  • Health and Safety: Employers should be mindful of potential health and safety risks associated with night work, such as fatigue, and implement mitigating measures.

The Labour Department offers a guide that provides recommendations for employers on arranging shift work considering employee well-being.

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