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Pay boost: Hong Kong employees expect a 20% salary increase when changing jobs

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A just-published report on Hong Kong employment and salary trends by KPMG has revealed that global economic uncertainty is having little impact on Hong Kong’s employment outlook.

Upward salary pressure remains, with one-fifth of the city’s employees expecting a 20% pay increase when they next change jobs.

In other findings, tax incentives are encouraging Hong Kong professionals – especially high-income individuals – to seek opportunities in China and the so-called Greater Bay Area.

Felix Lee, head of KPMG’s executive search and recruitment services, told Human Resources that China’s tax exemptions are becoming “much more lenient”.

He said, “if the number of days working in China exceeds 183 days, then China tax applies” – which is significantly higher than Hong Kong tax. Lee added this requirement has been somewhat relaxed. For example, if an employee just spends 24 hours in China it doesn’t count as one of the 183 days.

“The Greater Bay Area is well-positioned to become a major economy and mega-metropolis, which will see significant opportunities for businesses across all sectors. The free flow of talent should improve existing synergies and create greater opportunities,” he said.

In early 2019, various tax exemptions from China’s new personal income tax were introduced, allaying Hong Kong residents’ concerns over post-tax income when working on the Mainland.

A total of 53% of respondents said they would consider working in Greater Bay Area cities – with Shenzhen, Macau and Guangzhou topping the list of preferred destinations.

The top four factors to work in these cities were higher pay (58%), better career prospects (56%), broader work exposure (54%) and convenience of travel (52%).

There is also strong data on headcount growth in Hong Kong with 72% of C-suite level positions or in human resources stating they plan to increase (35%) or maintain headcount (37%).

The innovation and technology sector is most buoyant, with 45% saying they plan to increase headcount, while 37% in the financial sector plan to boost headcount – although last year’s figure was 46%.

“The dip in prospective headcount increases in the financial services sector may relate to accelerating digital transformation and the application of artificial intelligence in engaging customers and dealing with risk management,” Lee said.

A total of 476 respondents took part in the employment trend survey.



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