Can an Employer Ask Employees to Work on the Rest Days?

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“If I ask employees to work on Saturdays and Sundays, is it alright? I believe there are many employers who have thought about this question and have asked their employees to work on the rest days. Is it legal to do so?

Before answering this question, we need to know what the “rest day” is and whether Saturday and Sunday mean the rest days?

According to the Employment Ordinance (EO), an employee employed under a continuous contract is entitled to not less than one rest day in every period of seven days. A rest day is defined as a continuous period of not less than 24 hours during which an employee is entitled to abstain from working for his employer. But rest days shall be appointed by the employer. 

If an employer has specified in the employment contract that Monday to Friday is the working days and Saturdays and Sundays are the rest days, then you should follow the employment contract. But the employer may substitute some other rest day with the consent of the employee, in which case it must be within the same month before the original rest day or within 30 days after it. 

Read more: [Employer Guide] Employment Contract

Is it illegal to require employees to work on the rest days even if the five-day week is a fixed work schedule?

An employer must not compel an employee to work on a rest day except in the event of a breakdown of machinery or plant or in any other unforeseen emergency.  For any rest day on which the employee is required to work, the employer should substitute some other rest day within 30 days after the original rest day. 

However, if both parties agree to work on the rest day, the employee may also work for the employer on the rest day. The employer should notify the employee of the arrangement within 48 hours after the employee is required to work. 

An employer who compels his employees to work on their rest days is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $50,000.

Note: Any condition in a contract of employment which makes payment of any type of annual bonus or end of year payment conditional on an employee agreeing to work on rest days is void. 

Do employees have the rest day pay if they agree to work?

Whether a rest day is paid or not is to be agreed by employers and employees.

In a nutshell, employees can decide whether to work on rest days or not while employers can not compel them to do so. If the employee agrees to work on the rest day, and the employer also pays the employee, then the employer needs to calculate the rest day pay accurately when doing the payroll.

The payroll function of Workstem can completely record the overtime hours and amount of pay, and automatically calculate them together, so that the employer or HR will not make any mistakes in payroll!

(The article on this website is intended to be for reference and general information purposes only. Workstem does not warrant or represent that such information is complete, accurate or up to date. It should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of law or court practice, or a substitute for professional legal advice.)

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