Guide 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 and highlights employees’ rights and the duties and responsibilities of employers and employees.

The Employment Act separates employees into two categories, which are:

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

An employee employed continuously by the same employer for four weeks or more, with at least 18 hours worked each week, is regarded as 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

Statutory holidays (paid)

13 Days

13 Days

Annual leave (paid)

Not applicable

1st & 2nd Year: 7 days.

3rd Year: 8 days.
4th Year: 9 days

(maximum of 14 days)

Sick leave (paid)

Not applicable

1st Year: 2 days/ completed month
2nd Year: 4 days/ completed month

(up to a maximum of 120 days)

Maternity leave (paid)

Not applicable

14 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)

Employers’ duties

Employers have specific obligations they need to fulfill, including creating the employment agreement, submitting the employer's Return, notifying tax authorities about the departure of non-resident employees from Hong Kong, and making contributions to the Mandatory Provident Fund. 

Creating the employment agreement:

The required information to be incorporated in the employment contract includes:

  • Job title
  • Duration of employment
  • Responsibilities of the employee
  • Commencement date of employment
  • Weekly working hours
  • Entitlements and benefits
  • Conditions for contract termination

Preparing employee’s written contract

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 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 concerning a company's system of compensation and benefits if they do not violate the provisions of the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57).

An employer must inform each employee of the conditions of employment under which they are to be employed before employment begins regarding:

  • Wages (including the 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 employment contract is in writing, the employer shall give one copy of the written contract to the employee for retention and reference.

Did You Know
In the case of unwritten contracts, the employer shall provide the employee with such information in writing if the employee makes a written request before such employment is entered.

An employer who fails to comply with the above requirements is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of US$10,000.

Employment age

Hong Kong’s statutory minimum working age is 18. However, minors are permitted to work in specific settings depending on their age, subject to certain limitations.

  • Children must be at least 15 years old to work in an industrial setting and are subject to daily and weekly work-hour limits.
  • Children aged 13 and 14 can only work in non-industrial establishments if they attend full-time schooling and must complete Form III of secondary education.
  • Children under 13 are prohibited from taking up employment unless the Commissioner for Labor grants special permission. This condition may be done for art and training, allowing them to be employed as entertainers. This employment will be subject to certain restrictions the Commissioner for Labor sets.

Hiring students

There are no restrictions to hiring students who are citizens or permanent residents of Hong Kong on a full-time or half-time basis. 


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Student employees are also entitled to Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions, provided they are over 18 and are employed for 60 continuous days. This regulation can, therefore, also apply to seasonal or part-time student workers.  

Employers must contribute at least five percent of the employee’s monthly earnings, regardless of their salary. 

The minimum work age in Hong Kong is 18, and hiring students under this age is subject to certain limitations and requirements.

International students can take on certain types of employment during their studies, either during term time or summer breaks, namely:  

  • The internship is related to the student’s field of study and is endorsed by their university;
  • Part-time on-campus employment, up to 17 hours per week; and
  • Summer employment isn’t subject to any limitations on work hours or type of employment but can only be undertaken between June 1 and August 31 each year.

There are no restrictions on the remuneration for local, permanent resident, or international students.

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

To attract foreign professionals possessing unique skills, knowledge, or expertise not readily accessible in Hong Kong, the government welcomes their employment in the region. To legally work in Hong Kong, foreign nationals are required to hold a valid employment visa.

Individuals who meet the specified criteria may seek eligibility for a work visa in Hong Kong. To qualify, applicants should meet the following requirements:

  • Maintain a clean criminal record.
  • Possess a solid educational background, typically holding a primary university degree in the relevant field of employment.
  • Demonstrate the existence of a genuine job opening.
  • Secure a confirmed employment offer.
  • Receive a compensation package in line with the prevailing market rates for professionals in Hong Kong.

The Immigration Department evaluates work visa applications based on the following conditions:

  • The applicant can substantiate their exceptional experience and qualifications for the position, which local Hong Kong residents need more time to fill.
  • The sponsoring company must provide supporting documents and explain why they cannot fill the job locally.
  • The company can commit to conducting business activities in Hong Kong.

The existing visa schemes for foreign employees in Hong Kong are outlined below:

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 yet to graduate 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)

Hong Kong minimum wage  

Hong Kong has increased the minimum hourly wage rate from HK$37.5 (US$4.8) to HK$40 (US$5.11).

Hong Kong employers must record the total number of hours worked by an employee in a wage period if:  

  • The employee is paid the minimum wage; and
  • The wages payable to the employee for the wage period are less than the monetary cap specified in the Ninth Schedule to the Employment Ordinance (or a proportionate amount if the wage period is less than a month).

According to the Ninth Schedule, the monetary cap has been increased from HK$15,300 (US$1,957) per month to HK$16,300 (US$2,085) per month.




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