Updated: Aug 11
Open-source intelligence (OSINT)
🔻 IMPORTANT 【重要】
Conclusion: What the working class in Hong Kong should pursue is the abolition of the 418-rule! Treat all workers and their types of employment equally! The 418-rule change is a neo-liberalism that further exacerbates the labor environment!
The 418-restriction, which has the greatest impact on the entire labor environment, is the biggest flaw in the employment laws because the Labor Standards Act generally treats all workers and their types of employment the same without distinction. However, in Hong Kong, as long as they do not comply with the 418 rule, they are not covered by the well-being and protection of the entire employment ordinance. This is even more so than the discrimination between regular and non-regular employees as reported on August 7, 2023, The Labor Department and the LAB will propose a change to the 418-rule. That is to say, they will use 4 weeks to calculate the total statutory working hours (instead of each week to calculate the total working hours) and will change the threshold for the application of the Employment Ordinance to 4 working hour options, such as 4 weeks of 72, 68, 64, or 60 hours of total working hours. In fact, this change will not help casual, temporary, and other short-term workers, and the 4-week 72-hour period is no different from the current 418-rule, nor will it add any additional employment or work-hour protection.
🔻 NEWS / FACTs 【事實關係】
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.
Upon meeting the conditions of a continuous contract, the employer is required to provide the employee with the following benefits:
- Rest days
- Holiday pay on statutory holidays after 3 months of a continuous contract
- Holiday pay for statutory holidays after 3 months of a continuous contract. Annual leave with pay after 12 months of continuous contract
- Sickness allowance
- Maternity leave
- Paternity leave
- Payment of redundancy payment or long service payment upon termination of employment
- Employment protection against dismissal or changes in employment contract
Chui, Rayman Man Wai, President of the Institute of Dining Professionals, opined that it might not be the right time to review the continuous employment contract requirement commonly known as "418" under the Employment Ordinance.
He explained that at present, about 20% of the employees in the catering industry are working part-time or "casual", i.e. working less than 18 hours a week. If, according to the four review proposals put forward by the Labour Department as quoted by members of the LAB, as long as an employee has worked for a minimum of 72, 68, 64 or 60 hours in a four-week period, he or she will be entitled to statutory benefits such as "statutory holidays" and "annual leave", and the employer is required to allow his or her employees to take paid holidays during which he or she will need to employ other employees, this will result in a loss of job opportunities for the employee. Employers will have to allow their employees to take paid leave and hire other staff to take over their positions during this period, which will increase the operating costs of employers.
Chui, Rayman Man Wai said that it has only been about half a year since the resumption of customs clearance after the epidemic, the industry has not yet resumed business and there is a shortage of labor, coupled with the rising cost due to inflation. It is better to wait until next year, or even 2025, to review the situation. If the amendment is really necessary, the change to "72 hours of work within four weeks" will have less impact on the industry.
Capital responded that 4 weeks of 72 hours is better because it is exactly the same as the current 418 rule. Even regardless of the total number of hours worked and the way they are calculated, capital can still adjust the total number of hours worked by temporary workers under the 418-rule requirement. Admittedly, this is not a question of the total number of hours worked and the method of calculation per se, but rather a question of abolishing the 418-rule itself.
The current four options are just rhetorical and linguistic tricks.
4 weeks of 72 hours = 18 hours per week (current 418 rule)
4 weeks of 68 hours = 17 hours per week
4 weeks of 64 hours = 16 hours per week
4 weeks of 60 hours = 15 hours per week
In other words, capital maintains the 418-rule itself, and the proposition itself is designed to maintain the threshold for the 418-rule or similar applicable employment regulations. The class nature of the policy is capitalist. By maintaining the 418-rule or similar thresholds in the final draft, the Labor Department is only quantitatively adjusting the total number of hours worked, meaning that it is slightly lowering the threshold for temporary workers, but at the same time, this will only exacerbate the underhanded tactics of the present deceptive staffing arrangements, i.e., the employer will lower the total number of hours worked by the present casual workers even more than it is doing now (maybe less than 15 hours per week). The result is obvious: casual workers will only become more 'casual' and more unstable.
🔻 COMMENT 【評語】
In short, if we are truly concerned about the casual workers who are systematically excluded from the protection and benefits of the Employment Ordinance, the Communist Party of China, the Hong Kong Government and the entire working class in Hong Kong should abolish the 418-rule and its similar thresholds per se. Instead, all workers and their types of employment should be afforded the protection and benefits of the Employment Ordinance. Admittedly, the so-called 418-rule alternatives are nothing more than pseudo-propositions of the bureaucratic, capitalist, and laborist aristocracy. Hong Kong's bureaucrats, capitalists, labor aristocrats, and media are all better at public relations tricks than they are at doing the real thing.
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