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Contract


Article exclusively contributed by the
Labour Relations Promotion Unit
of the Labour Department

Contract of employment


Dickson has been working in an IT firm as a programmer for about three months. His boss is highly satisfied with his performance and has promised to give Dickson a pay rise next month. He will also be able to enjoy more employment benefits like year-end payment, home-to-work traveling allowances and overtime pay.

Dickson is delighted to hear the good news. His only worry is that his boss has, so far, only verbally conveyed to him the details of his salary increase and additional employment benefits. Dickson is concerned that, would they not put everything down on paper, there may be some misunderstandings or misinterpretations later and he may disagree with his employer about these employment terms. He wishes to obtain from his employer a written confirmation of these terms and conditions of employment.

What can Dickson do to get such information?

  • According to the Employment Ordinance, if the contract of employment is not in writing, the employer shall provide the employee with written information on the major conditions of employment upon a written request from the employee. This written information should include details regarding wages, wage-payment period, and length of notice required to terminate the contract, as well as amount and payment period of year-end payment (if the employee is entitled to an end of year payment).

  • The Employment Ordinance also stipulates that whenever there is any change in the conditions of service, the employer shall inform his employee in an intelligible manner. If such change to conditions of service is in writing, or upon a written request from the employee, a copy of the written amendment must be provided to the employee.

  • Hence, Dickson could make a written request asking his employer to provide him with written information on the above major terms and conditions of employment.

The above case only serves as an illustration of the provisions of the Employment Ordinance on contract of employment. The Employment Ordinance, however, remains the sole authority for the provisions explained above and in case of dispute, the final decision rests with the court.

Employment and Wages Records

Every employer must at all times keep a record setting out the wages and employment history of each employee covering the period of his employment during the preceding six months (Now revised: During the preceding twelve months). The record should be kept at the employer's place of business or at the place where the employee is employed. It must also be kept for another six months after the employee ceases to be employed.

Offences and Penalties

An employer who fails to keep the above record is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $10,000.

Q & A about the Employment Ordinance
Q1 What is a contract of employment?
A1 A contract of employment is an agreement made between an employer and an employee about the terms and conditions of employment. The agreement can be made orally or in writing. Both express and implied terms can be included in the contract. The Labour Department encourages employers and employees to set out terms and conditions in written employment contracts.

Q2 What is a continuous contract of employment?
A2 A continuous contract of employment means an employment contract under which an employee works continuously for the same employer for 4 weeks or more, and at least 18 hours in each week.

Q3 If an employee agrees to give up his rights and benefits under the Employment Ordinance when he signs his employment contract, will that be considered valid?
A3 No, it will not be valid. Any term of an employment contract, which purports to extinguish or reduce any rights, benefits or protection conferred upon an employee by the Employment Ordinance has no legal effect.

Q4 Is it obligatory for an employer to provide a copy of the contract to his employee if the contract of employment is in writing?
A4 Yes. Even if the contract of employment is not in writing, the employer shall provide the employee such information in writing if the employee makes a written request. An employer who fails to comply with the above requirements is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $10,000.

   
 
Source : Labour Department


Taken from Career Times 21 June 2002

(Last review date: 23 August 2013)


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor.

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