Employers and/or Human Resources practitioners should review their company policies and documents in view of the proposed increasing number of statutory holidays.
The HKSAR Government proposed to increase the number of statutory holidays (12 days) to align with general holidays (17 days) progressively by 2030. The way is to add one statutory holiday (Buddha’s Birthday) first in 2022, then the first weekday after Christmas Day and 3 days of the Easter Holidays every 2 years.
Current Number of Holidays
There are 12 statutory holidays as compared to 17 general holidays (or commonly known as public holidays) other than Sundays in Hong Kong.
Statutory Holidays (also General Holidays):
First day of January
Lunar New Year's Day
Second day of Lunar New Year
Third day of Lunary New Year
Ching Ming Festival
Tuen Ng Festival
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day
The day following the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival
Chung Yeung Festival
Chinese Winter Solstice Festival or Christmas Day at the option of the employer
General Holidays which are not Statutory Holidays (as of March 2021):
Birthday of the Buddha
The day following Good Friday
The first weekday after Christmas Da
What Does the Proposed Increase Mean to Employers and HR Practitioners?
While many organizations in Hong Kong are offering general holidays to employees, some employers provide statutory holidays only.
Employers should stay alert on this topic to see when the Bill will be passed in the future. More importantly, employers need to know when and which general holidays will become statutory to ensure Human Resources policies and practices stay compliant with the law.
The first additional statutory holiday will be introduced in 2022 if the Bill is passed. Employers may take a pro-active stand to review the following areas of Human Resources policies and practices.
Employment contract. Is there any reference to holidays in the employment contract? Make sure the wording of the relevant clauses in the employment contract remains applicable when the statutory holiday is increased. Otherwise, update the wording accordingly.
Employee handbook. Some organizations provide an employee handbook which describes the detailed benefits coverage and arrangement. Holiday entitlement is often included in the employee handbook. Review and update the section where necessary to avoid any discrepancies between what is written in the employment contract and the employee handbook.
Human Resources policies or guidelines. If employers also keep policy manual to guide internal processes, remember to update the policy manual timely.
Internal company website. If employers put employment related information on internal website, human resources practitioners need to review and update the web page content. If the web page has to be updated with technical support team, planning ahead for updating the web page will be essential instead of rushing in the last minute.
These areas do not represent an exhaustive list for review. Employers and Human Resources practitioners should identify the documents (paper and digital format) used within organizations and plan for a review soon.
As a good practice, it is best to refresh our understanding on the Part of Holidays with Pay in the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) in conjunction with reviewing the policy.
Note: This blog is written in March 2021 when the Bill of increasing statutory holidays in Hong Kong was gazetted.
Norris Wong is an independent Human Resources consultant who supports employers & Human Resources leaders to address people issues. If you need help in reviewing or drafting the necessary Human Resources documents, please contact Norris to discuss suitable solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org
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