Employment: Contract and wages

Wages overdue

Wages become due on the expiry of the last day of the wage period (e.g. for a monthly wage period, wages become due on the expiry of the last day in each month). Employers should pay wages to their employees as soon as practicable, but in any case not later than seven days after the end of the wage period. Employers are required to pay interest (at the rate fixed by the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal from time to time) on the outstanding amount of wages if they fail to pay those wages within seven days from the due date.

An employer who is no longer able to pay wages should terminate the relevant contract of employment in accordance with its terms.

If wages are not paid within one month after they become due, then employees can deem their contracts of employment to be terminated by their employers without notice, and are entitled to wages in lieu of notice in addition to other statutory and contractual termination payments.

Employers who fail to pay wages to employees when they become due are liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for one year. Employers who fail to pay interest on the outstanding amount of wages to employees are liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $10,000.

If you notice symptoms of insolvency in your employer (e.g. failing to pay wages, some machines or raw materials removed or the employer suddenly disappeared), then you should immediately seek assistance from the Labour Relations Division of the Labour Department. When appropriate, the Labour Relations Division will refer your case to the Legal Aid Department, which will consider your application for legal aid for instituting winding-up or bankruptcy proceedings against your employer.

You may also be referred to the Wage Security Division of the Labour Department for application for ex-gratia payment from the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund.

You can contact the Labour Department at 27171771 or via email at enquiry@labour.gov.hk for further details.