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HK looks to mandate working hours

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The Hong Kong government is moving forward with plans to review the impact of legislating working hours, but will there be long-term cost implications?

Hong Kong is looking into setting up a task force to see if the implantation of standard working hours would increase business cost in the long run, South China Morning Post reported.

However, Jon Messenger, an International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) senior research officer, said while it is expected for labour cost to rise in the short term, the concerns were unfounded.

“In general, companies will respond by reducing the working hours. And when working hours are reduced, there will be an impact on productivity,” Messenger said, adding employees will be more motivated to complete their work faster.

The ILO encourages a standard 40 hours of work per week for each employee, with most people globally working between 40 and 48 hours weekly. The organisation also requires bosses to pay at least 25% more for each hour an employee is working over time.

A 2010 ILO report found 71% of countries pay employees at least 25% on top of their basic pay for overtime, 44% of countries pay 50% more, and 10% pay between 75% and 100% more.

In November last year, 260 Singaporean employers were found to have breached overtime rules between 2008 and 2011, resulting in 21 employers being prosecuted and 56 facing fines.

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