You may not know it but there is actually a clear distinction between Statutory Holidays and General Holidays in Hong Kong. Here is a short guide to help you navigate through the blurs and complexities.
Not all workers in Hong Kong observe General Holidays. Statutory Holidays, on the other hand, are mandatory, no matter what. According to the Labour Department, 12 holidays – such as the National Day of the People’s Republic of China on October 1st, or the Cheung Yeung Festival on October 17 – are classified as statutory.
What are the statutory holidays?
An employee, irrespective of his length of service, is entitled to the following statutory holidays:
- The first day of January
- Lunar New Year’s Day
- The second day of Lunar New Year
- The third day of Lunar New Year
- Ching Ming Festival
- Labour Day, being the first day of May
- Tuen Ng Festival
- Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, being the first day of July
- The day following the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival
- Chung Yeung Festival
- National Day, being the first day of October
- Chinese Winter Solstice Festival or Christmas Day (at the option of the employer)
While it is indeed up to you to decide whether you should give your helper the day off or not for General Holidays (sure, this is not mandatory, but it is always nice to give them the day off if you are not working yourself and don’t need them!), clear rules exist and apply when it comes to Statutory Holidays in Hong Kong:
- Statutory Holidays are mandatory i.e. you must give your domestic helper the day off.
- They are mandatory irrespective of the length of service i.e. no matter if your helper has been with you for two years or only two days she must get the day off.
- If your helper has been with you for at least 3 months under a continuous contract, she is entitled to paid statutory holidays. If she has been with you for less than 3 months she is entitled to statutory holidays. However, in such case, it is strictly up to you to decide whether you want to pay her or not.
- All statutory holidays must be taken off i.e. you cannot pay your helper to work on a statutory holiday (even if you pay her extra). Note that any payment made in lieu of statutory holidays can result in a fine.
- If for some reason, you need your helper to work on a statutory holiday, you must give her at least a 48 hours’ prior notice and arrange an alternative holiday within a 2-month period before or after the statutory holiday.
- Should the statutory holiday fall on your helper’s usual rest day, you should grant her a mandatory holiday either on the following day, which is not a statutory holiday, or you can also choose to grant her an alternative holiday, a substituted holiday, or a rest day.
For additional information on the topic please visit the Hong Kong Labour Department’s website.