Gov’t to legislate on part-time jobs

Thursday, May 13, 2010
Issue 1011, Page 3
Word count: 749
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Standing Committee for the Coordination of Social Affairs yesterday started discussions on the non-full-time work legislation, but employer and employee representatives hold opposite views on the labour rights and interests.

The representatives respectively presented their proposals to the government members during yesterday’s meeting at the Labour Affairs Bureau.

The committee’s coordinator Shuen Ka Hung told reporters that the government members are going to bring the opinions from the two sides back to the senior, and at the same time to form a special working group which is responsible to draft the bill in the next one or two months based on the opinions and related international conventions.

Shuen Ka Hung said the government did not yet take a stance on the work system since he had not yet reported to Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen about what the employers and employees think, but stressed that the government must follow the consensus between the two sides or otherwise it will try to coordinate with them until they reach an agreement.

In the meeting yesterday, while the two employee representatives suggested that non-full-time workers should deserve to enjoy the equal labour protection as full-time workers especially regarding holidays and maternity leave, the employer representatives believed the opposite.

The employee representatives says non-full-time workers are those who work less than 24 hours and four days per week, and work for the same employer for no longer than six months.

In order to prevent employers from terminating labour relations to avoid the legislation, it is also proposed that if a new contract is formulated between the same employer and employee within a certain period of time after the previously relation was ended, it should be deemed that such labour relation has never been interrupted.

The employees’ side also believed that the difference between full-time and non-full-time workers is their daily or weekly working hours, and “the reduced working time is purely the request of employers based on the nature of the posts, and employees’ labour obligations thus remain the same”.

Therefore, they told the government members that part-time workers should not be deprived of their rights and interests but be entitled to the same protection as full-time employees.

The representatives said part-time workers’ basic rights including getting salary, statutory holidays and maternity leave have to be in line with the Labour Relations Law, stressing the top principle is that any agreements between employers and non-full-time workers cannot below the statutory minimum standards.

In contrast, the two employer representatives proposed that, after collecting opinions from various business organisations and industries, only people who work no more than 192 hours consecutively in every four weeks can be deemed as non-full-time employees. This is translated into 48 hours per week in average.

The employers’ side also said that work probation, over-time work, night and shift jobs as well as absence from work are not applicable to part-time employees.

In addition, the representatives argued that non-full-time workers do not have the right to enjoy statutory holidays, annual leave, maternity leave and paid sick leave.

They also proposed that either employers or employees can take the initiative to terminate the labour relations, and both of them do not require giving an advance notice but employees have no right to ask for dismissal compensation.

Imported labour advisory committee

Meanwhile, Shuen Ka Hung said the regulation for the working committee on the employment of imported labour has already been drafted. He said it is an advisory body and formed by two representatives each from the employers’ side, the employees’ side as well as the SAR government.

The working committee is responsible to oversee the implementation of the Imported Labour Law and related regulations, collect and study public opinions and also to conduct research and compile opinion reports, in order to assist the government in formulating strategies, policies and measures.

Shuen Ka Hung said the regulation will need to be approved by the standing committee’s general assembly and it will come into effect when it is promulgated in the Official Gazette.

On the other hand, the standing committee will start to present quarterly statistics of the income subsidy scheme concerning the number of applicants, their job types, working hours and the government’s expenditure during its meetings some months later, after the Financial Services Bureau organises all the data.

The move came in response to the request of the employee representatives, who said some employers made use of the subsidy scheme and intentionally reduced local workers’ remunerations.

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