All employees are entitled to leave on statutory holidays, irrespective of the length of services.
Hong Kong’s statutory holidays in 2023 are as follows:
- New Year’s Day (January 1): 1 day;
- First three days of Lunar New Year (late January or early February): 3 days;
- Ching Ming Festival (April 5 ): 1 day;
- Labor Day (May 1): 1 day;
- The Birthday of the Buddha (May 8): 1 day;
- Tuen Ng Festival ( June 3): 1 day;
- Establishment of the Hong Kong SAR (July 1): 1 day;
- The day following the Chinese Mid-autumn Festival (September 12): 1 day;
- Chung Yeung Festival (October 4): 1 day;
- Chinese National Day (October 1): 1 day; and
- Chinese Winter Solstice Festival or Christmas (December 22 or 25, at the employer's option): 1 day.
Suppose one of these legal holidays coincides with a day off; the employers should provide a day off on the subsequent day, which is neither a legal holiday, an alternative holiday, a replacement holiday, nor a day off.
Statutory holidays will be increased progressively to 17 days starting in 2024:
Newly added statutory holiday
Number of statutory holidays
The first weekday after Christmas Day
The day following Good Friday
Employees who have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least three months under a continuous contract (meaning they've worked for four weeks or more, with at least 18 hours worked each week) are entitled to receive pay for statutory holidays. The employers should provide this holiday pay to the employee by their next scheduled wage payment after the statutory holiday.
Employers can request that employees work on statutory holidays, but they must give their employees a minimum of 48 hours prior notice if they intend to do so. In such cases, the employer must also schedule an alternative holiday for the employee within 60 days before or after the statutory holiday. Employers need to maintain clear records documenting the alternative or substitute holiday taken by the employee. Employers are not allowed to offer any payment to employees before granting them a statutory holiday.
Holiday pay should be calculated based on the employee's average daily wages. It's important to note that substituting holiday payment is prohibited. The government has the authority to impose fines of up to HK$50,000 (US$ 6,398) on employers who fail to provide holidays or pay holiday pay as mandated by law. Both employers and employees must be aware of these statutory holiday regulations to ensure compliance and fair treatment in the workplace.
Employees are legally entitled to paid annual leave after completing 12 months of continuous employment with a company. The length of an employee's service determines their entitlement to paid annual leave, which gradually increases from seven days to a maximum of 14 days.
Under continuous contracts, employees can take annual leave with pay. This entitlement escalates from 7 to 14 days based on their years of service.
The timing of annual leave should be mutually agreed upon by employers and employees, with employers providing advance notice. Employees can take their annual leave consecutively or divide it as per their entitlement. It's important to note that employees must be compensated by their employers for their annual leave, which is calculated based on their average daily wages.
Failure to grant or pay annual leave can result in government-imposed fines of up to HK$50,000 (US$6,300). Both employers and employees must be aware of these regulations and ensure compliance with annual leave entitlements and payments.
Entitlement of Paid Annual Leave
Years of service
9 or more
Employers can determine when annual leave is to be taken after consultation with the employee or their representative and must give 14 days written notice to the employee of the time that they have selected. Annual leave must, however, be granted within 12 months of the end of the leave year, although in practice, most employers allow annual leave to be taken as it accrues.
Paid annual leave should be granted for an unbroken period unless the employee requires it. For leave entitlement not exceeding 10 days, up to three days can be granted separately, and the employer should grant the balance consecutively. For leave entitlement exceeding 10 days, at least seven days should be granted by the employers consecutively. Any rest day or statutory holiday falling within a period of annual leave will be counted as annual leave, and another rest day or holiday must be appointed.
The law allows an employee to accept payment in lieu of that part of the leave entitlement which exceeds 10 days. For example, if an employee is entitled to 12 days' annual leave, they can take 10 days' leave and accept payment of the equivalent wages for the 2 days' leave.
Employees are entitled to take payment in place of any accrued and untaken statutory annual leave from the previous leave year that exceeds 10 days and are also entitled to compensation for any outstanding annual leave due upon cessation of employment on a pro-rata basis. The law also permits employees to take all untaken yearly leave for 12 months after the preceding leave year.
The daily rate of annual leave pay is equivalent to the average daily wages earned by an employee in the preceding 12-month period. The calculation shall be based on the shorter period if an employee is employed for less than 12 months.
Common leave year and annual leave shutdown
Employers can elect a common leave year and give employees pro rata leave based on employment duration, while the employees can take or combine pro rata leave with the next leave year.
Employers planning an annual leave shutdown must inform employees a month in advance. And if employees are affected by a shutdown but aren't entitled to paid annual leave, they should be granted it. In addition, the common leave year is not affected by a yearly leave shutdown.
An employee may only take paid sick leave if the following conditions are fulfilled:
- The sick leave taken is not less than four consecutive days with limited exceptions, such as pregnancy check-ups, post-confinement medical treatment, or miscarriage;
- An appropriate medical certificate supports the sick leave and
- The employee has accumulated a sufficient number of paid sickness days.
Paid sickness days are accumulated at the rate of two paid sickness days for each completed month of the employee’s employment during the first 12 months and four paid sickness days for each completed month after that, up to a maximum of 120 paid sickness days. The employees can accumulate paid sickness days throughout the whole employment period.
The employee is not entitled to sickness allowance if:
- The employee refuses treatment without reasonable excuse;
- The sickness day falls on a statutory holiday; and
- Compensation is payable by law (Employees’ Compensation Ordinance).
An employee who becomes pregnant is entitled to:
- A continuous period of 14 weeks of maternity leave;
- If childbirth occurs later than expected, added leave until the child is born; and
- Additional leave of a maximum of four weeks for illness or disability due to childbirth.
The employee may take leave two to four weeks before the expected date of childbirth, with the employer's agreement. Without such a decision, leave starts four weeks before birth. If childbirth occurs earlier than expected, that day is the starting day of the maternity leave.
The employee is eligible for maternity leave pay if she has worked under a continuous contract for 40 weeks and has given notice to the employer about the pregnancy with a qualified medical certificate provided. However, it should be noted that any extended maternity leave due to late delivery, illness, or disability will be unpaid.
The maternity leave pay is calculated at four-fifths of the employee's average daily wages earned in the 12 months leading up to the first day of the maternity leave. The calculation shall be based on the shorter period if an employee is employed for less than 12 months.
Employers could apply for the reimbursement of the 11th to 14th weeks of maternity leave pay paid to the employee from the government, subject to a cap of HK$80,000 (US$10,200) per employee.
The employee is also entitled to sickness allowance for any day on which the employee has attended a medical examination related to pregnancy, given that a certificate of attendance issued by professionals can be provided as proof.
A male employee is entitled to five days’ paternity leave for each confinement of his spouse/partner if he:
- Is the father of a new-born child or a father-to-be;
- Has been employed under a continuous contract; and
- Has given the required notification to the employer.
The employee may take paternity leave at any time from four weeks before the expected date of delivery of the child to 14 weeks beginning on the actual date of delivery of the child. The employee may take all five days of paternity leave in one go or on separate days.
A male employee is entitled to paternity leave pay if he has been employed under a continuous contract for not less than 40 weeks immediately before the day of paternity leave and has provided the birth certificate of his child, on which his name is entered as the child’s father, to the employer within the stipulated period.
The daily rate of paternity leave pay is equivalent to four-fifths of the average daily wages earned by an employee in the 12 months preceding the first day of paternity leave. The calculation shall be based on the shorter period if an employee is employed for less than 12 months.
No other employee leave is defined in Hong Kong law; therefore, two parties shall mutually agree upon all other kinds of employee leave that may be included in the employee's employment contract.