Offer of Employment

Case 2

Written Employment Contract Helps Minimise Disputes

An employer set up his company and recruited a few employees. However, he had no written employment contract with the employees. Except for the job titles and the salaries of the employees, no other employment conditions were mentioned during offers of employment. When the employees were paid their first month’s salary, there were disputes over the issue of overtime payment.

Employees held that they should be paid for the extra hours worked. Much time was spent before an amicable agreement was reached between the two parties. To avoid further disputes, the employer decided to draw up written employment contracts with all his staff, listing out all relevant employment terms. He and his employees found the written contract very useful.

Employment Contract

8. Once a suitable candidate has been selected and the offer accepted, it is in the interests of both an employer and an employee that :

·         a written employment contract be drawn up; and

·         both parties understand clearly and fully the terms of the contract.

9. Employers may make reference to the “Sample Employment Contract” distributed by the Labour Department when drawing up their contracts. To set out the agreed terms and conditions of employment in writing will avoid possible disputes and remind both parties of their obligations.

10. After confirming the offer of employment by a written employment contract, an employer should :

·         fulfil his legal obligations to give a copy of the written contract to an employee; and

·         consult his employee and must obtain his consent before making any subsequent change to the terms of the employment contract.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

11. In setting the terms of employment, employers should adhere to the principle of “equal pay for equal work”, i.e. :

·         the same work or work of similar nature should carry the same pay;

·         benefits available to one person in a particular grade or level should be available to all persons who hold the same job rank in the company; and

·         where there are individual differences in pay for equal work, it should be due to genuine and job-related factors, e.g. work performance, length of service or working locations and such considerations should apply to all staff in the same rank.

Work Arrangements under Special Circumstances

12. Hong Kong is frequented by typhoons and rainstorms during the summer months. To maintain good labour relations and to avoid unnecessary disputes, employers are advised to work out with employees before the employment commences the work arrangements and contingency measures during typhoons and rainstorms. In drawing up the work arrangements, employers should adopt a flexible approach and give consideration to employees’ safety both in the workplace and during their journeys to and from work. For details, please refer to the “Code of Practice in times of Typhoons and Rainstorms” published by the Labour Department .

13. To protect the safety of persons travelling outside Hong Kong, the Security Bureau has put in place an Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) System for reference of the public in planning their visit outside Hong Kong. Employees of different occupations in various trades may need to travel outside Hong Kong for business purpose. Employers and employees should agree clearly on the terms and conditions of employment in advance in order to protect the rights and benefits of both parties and to avoid unnecessary disputes. In drawing up the work arrangements and related contingency measures for business trip outside Hong Kong, employers should make reference to the OTA issued by the Security Bureau, give prime consideration to employees’ safety and be considerate to employees’ circumstances in adopting a flexible approach. It is also advisable for employers to liaise with their insurers to ensure that their employees’ compensation insurance policies can cater for the relevant arrangements.

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