How Does the Labour Law in Hong Kong Compare with Mainland China?

What’s the Difference Between Labour Laws in Hong Kong and the Mainland?

Although the proximity of Hong Kong SAR and Mainland China is literally across the border, Hong Kong’s special status gives the city a high degree of autonomy to set its laws. This means that labour laws between HK and the Mainland are very different.

Many businesses that are based in HK often have operations in Mainland China and vice versa. The relation between the two is indispensable, with both relying on each other in some form for their economic success. Often acting as a gateway between China and the rest of the world, Hong Kong has been crucial in the economic rise of China.  

Mainland China uses Hong Kong for imports and exports of many goods
Source: CNBC

Even though the ties between the two are close, work culture and legislation are not the same in most aspects. With China becoming an increasingly important market, we look at how it compares with its well-established Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong.

What are the Labour Standards in HK & China?

Hong Kong was one of the first places in Asia to industrialise and transform into a modern service-based economy. Fast development meant a mature set of labour laws have been implemented for some time now.  

However, Mainland China only began opening up its economy in 1978 and saw extraordinary growth in the following decades. As the economy expanded and the lives of average workers improved, legislation has evolved to accommodate the growing demands. For this reason, Chinese labour laws have seen more changes in recent times compared to HK.

Basic Comparison of HK & China Labour Laws

Minimum Wage AmountLegal Probation PeriodStandard Working HoursLegal Notice PeriodRetirement Age
Hong Kong$37.5 HKD per hourNo provision that specifies probation period, but standard practice is to have a 1–3 month period8 hrs per day only applicable to teenagers between 15 and 18 years oldDepending on probation period and contract provision. 7 days if contract does not include probationary period65
Highest: 2480 Yuan per month (Shanghai)Up to 6 months, depending on labour contract periodNo more than 44 hrs/week, normally 8 hrs per day30 daysMale – 60
Female – 50
(Under Review)
*Please note: Chinese labour law varies across the region

Leave Comparison Between HK & China

Statutory Annual Paid LeaveStatutory Paid Sick LeaveStatutory Maternity LeaveStatutory Paternity/Parental Leave (Childcare Leave, if any)Statutory Paid Holiday per Year
Hong Kong7-14 days, depends on years of servicesApplied to 4 consecutive sick leave days with doctors note only. Accumulated by 2-4 days/month, depending on years of service.
Max 120 days with 4/5 pay
14 weeks with 4/5 pay after 40 weeks’ services5 days with 4/5 full pay after 40 weeks’ services12 days statutory holidays, additional 5 days general holidays
5-15 days, depends on years of services3-24 months, depending on years of services98 days min. depends on different situations of parturition/ Varies across locationsVaries across locations11 days

Even though China is still technically considered a developing country, we can see that the employee protection laws are just as strong as Hong Kong. China’s standard of protection for employees is high, with rights like maternity leave achieving the global recommended standards set by the World Health Organization. 

China’s Labour Force Challenge

One important area to keep note of is that the retirement age is currently under review in China. Dealing with an ageing population, it comes as no surprise that the country is looking to raise the retirement age to tackle the predicted constraints on the workforce.

People 65 or older are expected to make up 27.9% of the population by 2050
Source: CGTN

With China’s labour laws always being altered to tackles increasing challenges, it is difficult for businesses who want to expand into the country to keep up with the regulations. Businesses are increasingly choosing to expand their operations into China through PEO/EOR services in order to stay compliant with local protocols, remove the language barriers, and cut costs. PEO/EOR lets you expand your business into China quickly and efficiently whilst avoiding compliance issues and minimising risks!

Need help expanding your business overseas? Learn more about the most flexible and cost-effective way to grow your business!

Interested in Seeing How Other Asian Countries’ Labour Laws Compare?

If you would like to see how HK and China’s labour laws compare with other countries in APAC, download our 2021 Mid-Year APAC Labour Law Comparison Chart now! Stay up to date with the latest developments in the region with our easy-to-read chart and learn about:

  • Minimum Wages
  • Working Hours
  • Probation & Notice Period
  • Maternity Leave
  • Compulsory Employment Insurance
  • Statutory Leave

Our APAC labour law chart is free to download, so get your copy now!

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APAC Labour Law Chart