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Bay area exam creates opportunities

I am delighted to learn that the inaugural Greater Bay Area Legal Professional Examination was held successfully in Hong Kong today. I am truly grateful to the Ministry of Justice for its policy on implementing the Greater Area Bay exam and related training, and its dedicated efforts all along.   The bay area exam, originally scheduled to be held earlier this year, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ministry then decided to set up new examination venues in Hong Kong in addition to those in Shenzhen and Zhuhai, and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Justice for the department to co-ordinate with the Hong Kong Examinations & Assessment Authority to handle examination-related work. Such arrangement has brought great convenience to Hong Kong candidates.   Thanks to the ministry’s staunch support all along, the bay area exam was set up in response to the suggestions and aspirations of the Hong Kong legal sector. It will no doubt provide an exten

Contract workers' wages increase

The Government today announced that the median hourly wage of non-skilled employees engaged by government service contractors increased 23.8% after implementing a package of improvement measures since April 1, 2019.   It released a report on the review of improvement measures which analysed information from government service contracts adopting the improvement measures issued and awarded from April 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020 by four main user departments.   The analysis showed that among about 25,500 non-skilled employees who have benefited from the improvement measures covered in the study, their median committed hourly wage increased from $36.7 to $45.5, a substantial rise of 23.8%.   Even after discounting the increase in the statutory minimum wage rate and the Consumer Price Index (A) for the same period, there was still a significant net increase of 14% in the employees’ median hourly wage.   Based on those figures, the monthly basic wage of cleaning workers or security guards among non-skilled employees benefiting from the improvement measures who work six days a week and eight hours per day, increased from about $9,100 to $11,270, representing a very substantial increase of about $2,170 per month.   The employee will also receive a contractual gratuity at a rate of 6% of the total wages with no less than 12 months of service upon contract completion or termination.   The Government said the improvement measures have proven to be significant and effective in enhancing the remuneration packages and labour protection of non-skilled employees.   On government expenditure, comparing the same batch of service contracts before and after adopting the improvement measures, the average increase in annual expenditure incurred amounted to more than 40%, a significant proportion of which covered enhancement in the remuneration packages and the working environments of the employees concerned.   The Chief Executive in her 2018 Policy Address announced a package of measures to improve the employment terms and conditions as well as labour benefits of non-skilled employees engaged by government service contractors.    While the improvement measures were welcomed, the Chief Executive announced in January 2020 that the Secretary for Labour & Welfare would set up an Inter-departmental Working Group to review the measures' actual impact and propose further improvement measures as needed.   The Government said non-skilled employees of government service contractors are an important source of human resources in the provision of public services, adding they have shouldered additional work pressure during the COVID-19 epidemic.   Despite the economic recession, the working group considered it justified to retain the improvement measures.   The working group also recommended improvement measures, including requiring government service contractors to provide uniforms with dry-fit properties for non-skilled employees engaged in outdoor work in summer and introducing measures on preventing heatstroke in the tender brief as guidelines for good practice for government service contractors to implement.   It also suggested conducting a longer-term review of the working hours arrangements of non-skilled employees when the working hours guidelines of the property management and cleaning services sectors by the tripartite committees of the Labour Department are available.

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