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D. Holiday/annual leave/sick leave/maternity leave and their relevant payments


An employee who is employed under a continuous contract is entitled to not less than one rest day in every period of 7 days. A rest day is defined as a continuous period of not less than 24 hours during which an employee is entitled to cease working. Rest days are not equivalent to statutory holidays. An employee employed under a continuous contract is entitled to have rest days AND statutory holidays.


Rest days are appointed by the employer. They can be granted on a regular or irregular basis. If the rest days are on regular basis, it is sufficient for the employer to inform the employee of the arrangements. If they are on an irregular basis, then the employer must inform the employee of the appointed rest days during the month before the beginning of the particular month.


An employer can substitute rest days with the consent of the employee, in which case the substitution must be within the same month before the original rest day or within 30 days after it. If a statutory holiday falls on a rest day, then it should be taken on the day following the rest day.


1. Should employees receive salaries for their rest days?

2. My boss ordered me to work this Sunday (which is my usual rest day). Can I reject his order?

3. Do I enjoy a rest day if I am being "On call"?

4. I work from Monday to Friday every week. Saturday and Sunday are rest days. If a statutory holiday falls on Saturday, should the employer grant me a holiday in substitution?

5. Can employees volunteer to work on a rest day?


Employees, irrespective of their length of service, are entitled to the following statutory holidays :



The first day of January


Lunar New Year's Day


The second day of Lunar New Year


The third day of Lunar New Year


Ching Ming Festival


Labour Day, being the first day of May


The Birthday of the Buddha


Tuen Ng Festival


Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, being the first day of July


The day following the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival


Chung Yeung Festival


National Day, being the first day of October


Chinese Winter Solstice Festival or Christmas Day (at the option of the employer)

If employees are required to work on a statutory holiday, then their employers must give them an alternative holiday within 60 days before or after that statutory holiday with 48 hours' advance notice.


6. Should employees be paid for their statutory holidays?

7. Can I order my staff to work on statutory holidays by making substitute payments?




Employees are entitled to annual leave with pay after having been employed under continuous contracts for every 12 months. Employees' entitlement to paid annual leave increases progressively from 7 days to a maximum of 14 days according to length of service.


Annual leave pay is a sum equivalent to the normal wages that employees would have earned if they had worked during the period of annual leave.


For employees who are employed on piece rates or whose daily wages vary from day to day, the annual leave pay should be a sum equivalent to the average daily wages earned on the days that the employees worked during every complete wage period. The wage period should be a period of not less than 28 days and not more than 31 days immediately preceding the annual leave or the day on which the employment contract terminates.


(Note: Although wages cover contractual commission, the Court of Final Appeal has held in the case of Lisbeth Enterprises Limited v Mandy Luk that no commission is to be included in the calculation of holiday pay and annual leave pay unless the relevant commission is calculated on daily basis. However, there is a possibility that the relevant ordinance provision may be amended in future.)


Employers are under a statutory obligation by virtue of section 41G of the Employment Ordinance to keep annual leave records.


Offences and Penalties


Employers who fail to grant annual leave or pay annual leave pay to employees are liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $50,000.


8. What is the difference between statutory annual leave and contractual annual leave?

9. What are leave year ,common leave year and pro rata annual leave?

10. When can annual leave be taken?

11. What is the manner in which annual leave may be taken?

12. What happens to the accrued but unused annual leave in a leave year?

13. Can the employee opt for payment in lieu of statutory annual leave?

14. What happens when statutory rest days and holidays fall within the annual leave?

15. Can employers require their employees to take annual leave in the leave year in which it is accrued? If employees do not take all annual leave in the leave year in which it is accrued, can employers forfeit untaken annual leave?



Employees can accumulate paid sickness days after having been employed under continuous contracts. Paid sickness days are accumulated at the rate of 2 paid sickness days for each completed month of employment during the first 12 months of employment, and four paid sickness days for each completed month of employment thereafter. Paid sickness days can be accumulated up to a maximum of 120 days.


A sickness day is a day on which an employee is absent from work by reason of being unfit due to injury or sickness. A paid sickness day is a sickness day on which an employee is entitled to be paid sickness allowance.



16. How is sickness allowance calculated? When will I be entitled to sickness allowance?

17. My boss fired me during my sick leave for which I had a valid medical certificate. Has he violated the law?



Female employees who are employed under continuous contracts immediately before the commencement of their maternity leave and having given a notice of pregnancy to their employers are entitled to the following periods of leave:


  • a continuous period of 14 weeks' maternity leave;
  • if confinement occurs later than the expected date of confinement, a further period equal to the number of days from the day after the expected date of confinement to the actual date of confinement;
  • may enjoy an additional period of leave for not more than 4 weeks on the grounds of illness or disability due to the pregnancy or confinement.


When an employee is absent from work to attend medical examination in relation to her pregnancy, post confinement medical treatment or miscarriage, any day on which she is absent will be counted as a sickness day.


18. My expected date of confinement is coming soon and I have served a notice of pregnancy to my boss. When can I commence my maternity leave?

19. Should I receive salary during my maternity leave?

20. One week after serving the notice of pregnancy, my employer fired me. Has he violated the law?

21. Since I notified my boss of my pregnancy, he sometimes assigns heavy work to me. I think that he wants me to resign so he can avoid paying compensation or avoid giving maternity leave. Can he do that?

22. Are employers entitled to apply to the government for reimbursement of maternity leave pay?



Male employees working under continuous contracts with children born on or after January 18, 2019 are entitled to 5 days of paternity leave for each confinement of their spouses/partners if they give the required notification to their employers in accordance with the Employment Ordinance.


23. What should the male employee do to take paternity leave?

24. Should I receive salary during my paternity leave?

25. When can employees take paternity leave and do they have to take them all in one go?

26. Can employers require a male employee to provide a statement about detail of the child’s birth (such as the name of the mother)?

27. When do employers have to pay paternity leave pay?

28. What legal consequences will my employer face if he fails to grant statutory paternity leave or fails to pay statutory paternity leave pay?

29. Can an employer require employees to take unpaid leave?

30. Can an employee demand to take unpaid leave?