New Labour Law to be introduced next year

Saturday, July 26, 2008
Issue 416, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 620
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

After 14 months of deliberation within the standing committee, the new Labour Law will be formally introduced January 1, 2009, after lawmakers cast their final votes to the reform at the Legislative Assembly early next month.

The government submitted to the Third Standing Committee the final version of the reform proposal yesterday and committee members also approved the final report that details their works during the past 50 meetings.

The bill will be passed to the Assembly for a final round of discussion during its plenary meetings scheduled from August 4 to August 6 during which lawmakers, in most cases, will cast favourable votes to the amendments.

According to president of the standing committee, Cheang Chi Keong, the bill will not incriminate acts for deliberately owing employees’ wages because “the proposed measure will be able to respond to social demands nowadays”.

It is suggested that employers, after being confirmed by the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) as having owed wages more than nine working days after due dates without justified reason, would be allowed to settle outstanding payments immediately without any penalties.

Otherwise employers would be sent to court and if found guilty, Mr Cheang said they would be fined 20,000 patacas to 50,000 patacas for each employee involved.

However, the new bill adds that such fines could be replaced by imprisonment if, according to Mr Cheang, employers fail to settle the fines given.

Mr Cheang said the standing committee agreed that “employees’ wages should be protected” and such a measure is proposed with an aim to “help employees get back what they are deserved as soon as possible”.

The new Labour Law will also see a pay cut no longer need the approval of the DSAL as Secretary Francis Tam told the Assembly when the reform was first brought to discussion last year that the government should only be responsible for assuring a pay cut was agreed by both parties.

According to the bill, a reduction in basic salary shall only be permitted under a mutual written agreement which will be in effect if the DSAL is notified about the cut within 10 days.

As the new law will not cover non full-time employees, it states that normal working hours shall not exceed eight hours a day, 48 hours a week.

The daily limit can be modified in accordance to different business natures and mutual agreement but the weekly limit will still be in place.

On the other hand, extra payment for over-time work is set at 20 percent if both parties agree the schedule or 50 percent if employees disagree.

Night shifts are defined in the bill from midnight to 6am and employees will be entitled to 20 percent extra payments for providing work during such period.

As well, people who work in rotations or according to unstable periods will be able to receive additional 10 percent of salary.

It also proposes that if employers terminate contracts without justified reasons that have been defined in the bill, they are obligated to pay compensation which varies according to the duration of the work term.

However, sacked employees can only receive a maximum compensation equal to 12 times their basic salary which is set at a maximum 14,000 patacas a month as suggested in the bill.

Mr Cheang said it was not easy to reach a consensus for such major reform but the standing committee had strove for the greatest social recognition by its “openness” approach and communicating with the government.

He added that both the Assembly and the government recognised the significance in revising the Labour Law which has been in place since 1989 in order to guarantee both parties in a labour relation are protected in the ever-changing society.

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