Introduction to hiring employees in Hong Kong

Hiring employees in Hong Kong must comply with the region’s key labor legislations, especially the Employment Ordinance, which is the main piece of legislation governing conditions of employment in Hong Kong. The Employment Ordinance highlights employees’ rights as well as duties and responsibilities of employers and employees.

In Hong Kong, the Employment Act separates employees into two categories, which are:

  • Employees employed under a continuous employment contact (entitled to all the statutory benefits under the Employment Ordinance); and
  • Employees employed under an employment contract (entitled to basic protection under the Employment Ordinance).

An employee who has been employed continuously by the same employer for four weeks or more, with at least 18 hours worked in each week is regarded as being employed under a continuous contract.

Rights and Obligations of Employers and Employees


Employment contract

Continuous employment contract

Maximum work hours/week

Per contract

(normally 40-50 hours)

Per contract

(normally 40-50 hours)

Maximum workdays/week

Per contract (normally 5 days)

Per contract (normally 5 days)


Per contract

Per contract

Public holidays (paid)

12 Days

12 Days

Annual leave (paid)

Not applicable

1st Year: 7 days.

2nd Year: 8 days.
3rd Year: 9 days (maximum of 14 days)

Sick leave (paid)

Not applicable

1st Year: 24 days
2nd Year: 48 days

Maternity leave (paid)

Not applicable

10 weeks, subject to certain conditions.

Year-end bonus

Not applicable

Per contract

Medical insurance

Per contract

Per contract

Mandatory provident fund (MPF) contribution




Per contract (normally 1-6 months)

Per contract (normally 1-6 months)

Long service payment

Not applicable

Minimum 5 years of work (subject to conditions)

Preparing written employment contracts

While employees’ rights and benefits are protected under the Ordinance irrespective of whether the employment contract is made verbally or in writing, employers and employees are encouraged to enter into written employment contracts, which remind both parties of their obligations, and help avoid possible disputes.

Employers and employees are free to negotiate and agree on the terms and conditions of employment with reference to a company's own system of compensation and benefits provided that they do not violate the provisions of the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57).

An employer must inform each employee clearly the conditions of employment under which he is to be employed before employment begins with regard to:

  • wages (including rate of wages, overtime rate and any allowance, whether calculated by the piece, job, hour, day, week or otherwise);
  • wage period;
  • length of notice required to terminate the contract; and
  • if the employee is entitled to an end of year payment, the end of year payment or proportion and the payment period.

If the contract of employment is in writing, the employer shall give one copy of the written contract to the employee for retention and reference. If the contract of employment is not in writing, the employer shall provide the employee with such information in writing if the employee, before such employment is entered into, makes a written request.

[tips title="Did You Know"]An employer who fails to comply with the above requirements is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of US$10,000. [/tips]

Employment age

The legal age for working in Hong Kong is 18 years old and above. Children and teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 can also work in specific types of job. At the moment, Hong Kong does not currently have a mandatory retirement age. However, the common practice is for employees to retire by the age of 65-years.

Hiring part-time employees and contractual staff

Part-time or contract employees are not formally defined in the Employment Ordinance. However, part-time staff usually work fewer hours than full-time staff. Contract workers refer to workers who sign fixed-term labor contracts. Under Hong Kong's Employment Ordinance, part-time and contract employees enjoy the same protection as permanent full-time employees.

Hiring foreign employees

The Hong Kong government strongly advocates that employers should first consider hiring the local employees to fill job vacancies. However, foreigners with special skills, knowledge, or experience that are needed by Hong Kong are allowed to enter and stay in Hong Kong for employment as professionals.
A foreigner must have a valid work visa to be able to work in Hong Kong.

Types of Visas for Foreign Employees

Employment visa

Supplementary labor scheme visa

Foreign professional staff who have graduated from an academic institute in Hong Kong as well as foreign professional staff and mainland Chinese who have not graduated from Hong Kong but possess special skills, knowledge, or experience needed by Hong Kong.




Semi-skilled professionals at technician level or below.


Valid for 1 year initially (renewable)

Valid for 1 year initially (not renewable)


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