HR Legal Highlight - 2017

 

Remarks: The information is excerpted from the official journal of the HKIHRM - 《Human Resources 人才薈萃》and for reference only. Please refer to related government departments for updated regulations.

 

HR Legal Highlight - 2017

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Dec Stay Legal When Visiting Hong Kong on Business
2017 Nov Apology Ordinance – Unlocking the Power of “Sorry”
2017 Oct Legal Implications of “Gig Economy” for Employment
2017 Sep Managing Employee Absence - Practical Tips and Key Traps to Avoid
2017 Jul/Aug Stepping In: Arbitration Can Benefit All Parties
2017 Jun Vicarious Liability: a Pitfall for Employers
2017 May Ahead of the Curve: Tips for Dismissing Bottom Performers Legitmately
2017 Apr Avoiding Legal Risk in Monitoring Employee Social Media Activity
2017 Mar Beware of bonus payment pitfalls
2017 Jan/Feb Protecting Employers’ Investment in Staff Training and Development Sponsorship Programmes

 

 2017 Dec - Stay Legal When Visiting Hong Kong on Business

International businesses often send executives, employees and consultants from abroad to Hong Kong for a range of business-related activities, such as to attend meetings and training courses, give speeches and take part in conferences or exhibitions. The government allows foreign nationals of around 170 countries and territories to visit Hong Kong for a “visa-free period”, ranging from seven to 180 days, during which the visitor is not required to have a visa or entry permit for landing and staying in Hong Kong.

The visa-free period can also apply to those travelling to Hong Kong for certain business-related activities. However, businesses and HR professionals should keep up to date with immigration law requirements to ensure their business visitors do not fall foul of the relevant rules. Under Hong Kong immigration laws, permission given to a person to land as a “visitor” is subject to various conditions of stay.

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 2017 Nov - Apology Ordinance – Unlocking the Power of “Sorry”

On 13 July 2017, the Legislative Council passed the Apology Ordinance, with the aim of facilitating the resolution of disputes by promoting and encouraging the making of apologies. This new legislation comes into effect on 1 December 2017 and will apply to apologies made on or after that date.

Human resources professionals will know that the value of an apology in resolving employee grievances and other disputes between employers and employees cannot be underestimated. A genuine display of regret or empathy can go a long way to defusing a prickly situation; it also reduces the potential for a dispute to escalate into legal proceedings, which in turn takes up a significant amount of management time and resources.

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 2017 Oct - Legal Implications of “Gig Economy” for Employment

The gig economy is a growing sector, with a number of operators using online platforms to engage individuals to provide services. With regulators slow to catch up however, the legal status of this sector is currently uncertain and prone to change in the near future.

Uber, Deliveroo, Freelancer, GoGet, Airtasker – all part of the “gig economy”: the matching of businesses with consumers through an app or online platform, with the services being provided by “gig workers”.

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 2017 Sept - Managing Employee Absence - Practical Tips and Key Traps to Avoid

One common issue HR professionals face is the management of employees who are absent for long periods of time due to sickness. In this article, we will highlight the key points employers need to be aware of and suggest practical tips on how to appropriately manage employees on long-term sick leave.

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 2017 Jul/Aug -  Stepping In: Arbitration Can Benefit All Parties

Arbitration can be a simpler, more effective alternative to the Labour Tribunal yet surprisingly few people are familiar with the process. It’s not for every employee, or for every dispute, but arbitration makes sense up there in the C-suite.

Most people in Hong Kong, if asked where they think disputes between employees and their bosses are resolved, will mention the Labour Tribunal. Some people, including HR professionals of course, may also know that some large or complex cases end up in court; for instance, if an injunction is needed to enforce terms imposing confidentiality or non-competition obligations.

But very few people, if any, are likely to mention a third possibility, which is that employment disputes can also be dealt with in arbitration.

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 2017 Jun - Vicarious Liability: a Pitfall for Employers

The employee-employer relationship is a special one where each party’s rights and obligations towards the other often transcend the strict wording of any formal employment agreement. The transcendence of rights is often a result of Common Law where, over time, judges have implied and developed rights and obligations into an employment agreement, including “trust and confidence”; “confidentiality” and, indeed, most recently “anti-avoidance”.

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 2017 May - Ahead of the Curve: Tips for Dismissing Bottom Performers Legitmately

For several decades the vitality curve has been a widespread, if sometimes contested, practice for appraising employees’ individual productivity by corporations. Some 60% of Fortune 500 companies have used some form of it during their existence.

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2017 Apr - Avoiding Legal Risk in Monitoring Employee Social Media Activity 

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data has a publication on the “Privacy Implications for Organisational Use of Social Networks”. It is important to bear in mind that personal data is defined as any data:

1. relating directly or indirectly to a living individual
2. from which it is practicable for the identity of the individual to be directly or indirectly ascertained, and
3. is in a form in which access to or processing of the data is practicable.

This means that where an individual can be identified from a social media post, we are dealing with personal data that is protected under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap 486) (PD(P)O).

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2017 Mar - Beware of bonus payment pitfalls

Bonus season is now in full swing. Although the general trend since the financial crisis has seen bonus payments shrinking in size, bonuses continue to constitute a significant proportion of total remuneration for many employees. For HR practitioners navigating bonus season, it is important to understand the legal and regulatory framework for bonuses in Hong Kong, which is not without its pitfalls.

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2017 Jan/Feb - Protecting Employers’ Investment in Staff Training and Development Sponsorship Programmes

Training and development programmes are a key hiring tool, but they also function as a key retention strategy that allows organisations to attract motivated staff looking for personal and professional development opportunities. They are also instrumental for retaining staff with fungible skills.

However, these programmes are not without cost, both in terms of time away from the business and actual course fees, in times when the global economic outlook continues to put pressure on people costs. Tuition fees for some professional degrees such as MBAs can be over HK$500,000 so it is costly for employers if they do not then retain and derive benefit from this investment in their talent.

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