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Time off-in-Lieu for Statutory Holidays in Hong Kong

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

Workplaces are changing and evolving. Thanks to technology, employees can be online and productive in the blink of an eye, wherever they are. Work hours are becoming fluid, and employees are expected to work as required rather than fixed working hours.

The new generation of workers is demanding flexibility from employers and work-life balance. It’s not always a case of the highest pay cheque being the winner. To attract and retain great talent, employers are encouraged to respond innovatively.

Employment law established to protect employers and employees

As mentioned in our last article, all employees are entitled to 12 days of Statutory Holidays on a yearly basis in Hong Kong. According to the Employment Ordinance, in the event that a Statutory Holiday falls on a Sunday, the following working day, Monday, is designed as a Statutory Holiday in substitution.

Take Year 2021 as an example, since the third day of Lunar New Year falls on Sunday, the fourth day of the Lunar New Year is therefore designated as a Statutory Holiday as substitution.

On the other hand, if an employee is required to work on a Statutory Holiday, not only does the employer give at least 48 hours’ prior notice for work on a Statutory Holiday, a public holiday off-in-lieu/alternative holiday within 30 – 60 days before or after the Statutory Holiday should also be provided, depending on the mutual arrangement between the employer and employee. Take note that any form of payment in lieu of statutory holidays is strictly forbidden in Hong Kong under the Ordinance Law.

If a Statutory Holiday falls on an employee’s rest day, a holiday is granted on the day following the rest day, and that day should not be another Statutory Holiday, alternative holiday, substituted holiday, or rest day.

When administration is no longer draining

Some employers might find the above an administrative burden, but now they can take advantage of HR software to keep track of the public holiday/time off-in-lieu. For example, JustLogin’s new time off-in-lieu feature allows employers to apply a time off-in-lieu rule to all employees, a subset or a single employee. The feature also allows administrators to set an expiration date for time off-in-lieu days, so you can restrict employees to take the time-off within the same month for example, rather than letting the time off-in-lieu accumulate.

Time off-in-lieu isn’t reserved for just public holidays! Sometimes employees may work or attend training over a weekend or after hours. Instead of being paid overtime, they can be offered time off-in-lieu during regular work hours.

Time is more valuable than money

Offering time off-in-lieu is a step towards treating employees like the empowered adults they are. Time-off can be used at their discretion and they no longer have to divulge the details of their private lives to justify time-off.

Time off-in-lieu also offers employees a better work/life balance. It helps prevent burn-out – something that overtime pay doesn’t solve. And if their contract of employment doesn’t cater for overtime pay, excessive working hours can increase stress, build resentment and destroy staff morale.

It’s Not All About The Technology

The examples above talk exclusively to technological solutions. But technologies on their own are seldom disruptive. When they are deployed, coupled with a new business model, we see things turned upside down.

Uber and Airbnb addressed the needs of customers who weren’t traditional taxi and hotel users. They responded to a workforce excluded from or dissatisfied with, mainstream employment. Gig economy workers that were happy to be employed for once-off “gigs”. And Alibaba’s success has raised the possibility of new antitrust legislation in China. As the World Economic Forum points out, the 4IR brings with it issues of ethics and identity, agency and trust in addition to technological advances.

Meanwhile, we see a shift that recognises the changing workplace environment as well. For example, some US companies offer employees a Paid Time-Off (PTO) policy, which combines vacation, sick time, and personal time into a single credit of paid leave days. Workers are empowered with high degree of flexibility and can use time-off at their discretion.

Offering time off-in-lieu makes you a preferred employer

For employers, time off-in-lieu offers an opportunity to keep operations running as usual. Public holidays can be disruptive, and for some industries, the holidays mean extra work, not the reverse. Essential services and the hospitality industry are prime examples.

Time off-in-lieu doesn’t impact the bottom line in terms of profitability comparing to the way overtime payments does. So it’s a good option when money is tight. Employees can perform the work necessary to get a business back into the black without affecting the financials.

The most qualified, valuable employees often seek flexibility from employers. Offering time off-in-lieu can make you a preferred employer.

Administering public holiday off-in-lieu with JustLogin

To adjust for public holiday off-in-lieu days with JustLogin, go to the Leave Menu and select Administration. Click on the tab for Adjustments and complete the form as follows;

Leave Type: PH in lieu (for Public Holiday in Lieu)

Adjustment Type: Credit (to add days)

Adjustments Days: The number of days applicable

Effective Date: The date the in-lieu transaction relates to.

Expiry date: The date the days expire.

Remarks: This is a free field to add your notes.

Employees: Select which employee/s the adjustment applies to.

Not a JustLogin Customer?

That’s easy to rectify – just claim your 14-day free trial and get started right away. Using JustLogin means your data is stored securely on the cloud for you to access from anywhere, anytime. And employees can view and manage their leave online via the JustLogin portal. With JustLogin’s comprehensive, integrated HR management system, you’re free to spend your time on people, not paperwork.

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