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[HR 101] What’s the Minimum Wage?

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The Statutory Minimum Wage (SMW) in Hong Kong has changed over the years. In 2019, starting from 1st of May, the SMW rate has been revised to $37.5 per hour from $34.5 per hour. It’s important to be updated on the change of the policy.

  1. Does the Minimum Wage Apply to Everyone?

Statutory Minimum Wage (SMW) applies to most employees with the following exceptions:

* persons to whom the Employment Ordinance does not apply, including:

(a) a family member who lives in the same dwelling as the employer;

(b) an employee as defined in the Contracts of Employment Outside Hong Kong Ordinance;

(c) a person serving under a crew agreement under the Merchant Shipping (Seafarers) Ordinance, or onboard a ship which is not registered in Hong Kong;

(d) an apprentice whose contract of apprenticeship has been registered under the Apprenticeship Ordinance.

* live-in domestic workers

* student interns as well as work experience students during a period of exempt student employment


  1. What If the Employer Pays the Employee Less Than the Minimum Wage During the Wage Period?

The wage period will be the period in respect of which wages are payable to an employee for work done or to be done under his/her contract of employment. Unless provided otherwise, the period must be taken to be one month. If an employee’s monthly salary is less than $15,300, according to the Employment Ordinance, the employer should maintain a record of hours worked in the wage period of the employee.

 If the employer pays the employee less than the minimum wage during the wage period, the employee is entitled to be paid the difference (i.e. additional remuneration).

Note ⚠️

Wages payable to an employee in respect of any wage period should be no less than the SMW rate. Under the Employment Ordinance, an employer who willfully and without reasonable excuse fails to pay wages to an employee when it becomes due is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $350,000 and to imprisonment for three years.


  1. How to Judge if Wage Meets the Amount Required to Be Paid to the Employee?

You may refer to the following example, assuming – According to employment contract:

  • An employee with a monthly salary of $10,000 has worked 24 days in a wage period of 30 days with the total number of hours worked being 204 hours
  • In this wage period, payments made to the employee for time that is not hours worked include rest day pay for 4 days ($250 per day), statutory holiday pay for 1 day ($250) and annual leave pay for 1 day ($250)
  • SMW rate: HKD$37.5

(1) How to calculate the SMW:
the minimum wage for a wage period = Total number of hours worked by the employee in the wage period X SMW rate

Minimum wage according to the total number of hours worked for this month: 204 hours X $37.5=$7,650

(2) It should be the salary paid to employees of the month > the minimum wage calculated according to total working hours.
Wages payable to the employee in respect of this month: $10,000 – (4 X $250) – $250 – $250= $8,500

→ Since (2) is not less than (1), his monthly salary of $8,500 has met the minimum wage requirement.

Unless otherwise specified, the term “wages” in the Employment Ordinance means all remuneration, earnings, allowances including traveling allowances, attendance allowances, commission, overtime pay, tips, and service charges, however, designated or calculated, capable of being expressed in terms of money, payable to an employee in respect of work done or to be done, subject to certain exclusions.  Since the calculation for minimum wage excludes the time that is not hours worked, payment made to the employee for any time that is not hours worked (e.g. rest day pay, holiday pay, annual leave pay, maternity leave pay, sickness allowance, etc) must not be counted as part of the wages payable to the employee.

When calculating salary for temporary and part-time employees, employers need to learn about the minimum wage regulations or else they risk breaking the law. Workstem strictly follows the Employment Ordinance and automatically calculates salary for you based on the Statutory Minimum Wage.

We also support various calculation cycles such as hourly / weekly / monthly salary and different salary items customisation. As a one-stop human resources system, it allows you to handle attendance, scheduling, leave, and other HR tasks all in one platform.


(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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