Money Matter

Part-time employment

Article exclusively contributed by
Staff Management Consultancy Ltd.

Ms A and Ms B work as part-time sales staff. Ms A works from Monday to Friday, four hours a day, whereas Ms B works eight hours a day, three days a week. They have been working for two and a half years.

Two months ago, Ms A became ill; her doctor advised her to take four days' leave and issued a medical certificate for her. At the end of the month, her boss deducted four days' pay from her salary. He said, "You are only a part-time employee, so you're not entitled to any sick leave. I have to make a deduction for your absence."

On the other hand, Ms B planned a holiday and requested three days' leave. Her boss replied, "You don't have any paid annual leave as you're a part-time member of staff. But I can grant you unpaid leave.'"

This morning, their boss said, "Due to the recent drop in sales, we don't need part-time staff. I'll pay your outstanding wages today. You don't need to come back tomorrow."

Has their boss violated the Employment Ordinance (EO)?
There are no special provisions that differentiate between part-time and full-time employees. The main issue is whether the employee is being employed under a continuous contract - continuously working for the same employer for four weeks or more and for not less than 18 hours a week (commonly called "418"). If these requirements are satisfied, the employee is entitled to benefits as stipulated in the EO.

As Ms A and Ms B have been working over 18 hours a week for two and a half years, they are employed under continuous contracts. Ms A is entitled to a sickness allowance at a rate of four-fifths of her wages for her four consecutive days off sick, whereas Ms B is entitled to take paid annual leave immediately after being employed for 12 months. Furthermore, their boss should give them one month's termination notice or payment in lieu of notice for redundancy, as well as severance pay, as they have been employed for not less than 24 months.

Q & A on part-time employment benefits
Q1 What benefits are part-time employees entitled to under the EO if they are employed under continuous contracts?
A1 Regardless of whether employees work on a part-time or full-time basis, under a continuous contract they are entitled to:
Benefits Entitlements Eligibility
Rest day A continuous period of not less than 24 hours
Paid or unpaid
One in every seven days
Statutory holidays 12 days a year Entitled to holiday pay if employed for not less than three months
Annual leave Seven to 14 days Entitled to take after 12 months' service
Sickness allowance Accumulation of up to 120 days
Four-fifths of wages
Not less than four consecutive days are taken
Supported by an appropriate medical certificate
Maternity protection 10 weeks' maternity leave Paid maternity leave if employed for not less than 40 weeks before confinement
otherwise unpaid
Severance payment Monthly-paid employees: last month's wages x 2/3 x length of service
Hourly/daily-rated employees: 18 days' wages x length of service

Employed for not less than 24 months
Termination due to redundancy or lay-off
Long service payment Same as severance payment Employed for not less than five years
Termination for reasons other than redundancy or summary dismissal

Q2 Our company has hired a part-time employee to work four hours a day, five days a week. Can we make a mutual agreement under which he/she agrees to surrender all the benefits under the EO?
A2 Contracting out has no effect on an employment agreement. According to Employment Ordinance S.70, any term of an employment contract which is intended to surrender or reduce statutory rights in the EO shall be void. Therefore, even if an employee voluntarily agrees to surrender benefits under the EO, such terms shall be void.

Q3 Does the company have to enroll part-time employees in a Mandatory Provident Fund scheme?
A3 Yes. Employers are obliged to enroll full- and part-time employees aged 18-65 in an MPF scheme when they have been employed for 60 days or more.

Q4 Are part-time employees covered under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (ECO)?
A4 Yes. Under the ECO, employers must take out insurance policies for all employees, including full-time and part-time employees. If an employee is injured or dies in an accident arising out of and in the course of employment, the employer is liable to pay compensation.

Taken from Career Times 14 November 2003

(Last review date: 23 August 2013)

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