Legislation Governing the Employment of Young Persons and Children

If you are a young employee or a child employee, you have certain employment rights and protection. On the other hand, if you are an employer employing young people and children, there're certain laws you must comply with.

Employment Rights for Young Persons in Industrial Undertakings

If you have reached 15 years old but under 18, you are classified as a "young person" under the Employment Ordinance (EO). According to the Employment of Young Persons (Industry) Regulations, made under the EO, you are entitled to the following rights when working in industrial undertakings.

Maximum Working Hours

  • The maximum working hours for a young person is eight hours a day and 48 hours a week.
  • You are also not allowed to work more than six days a week or work overtime.
  • Working time should be within 7 am and 7 pm unless special permissions are granted by the Labour Department (LD).

Intervals for Meals or Rest

  • The employer must complete a specified notice on the permissible working hours, the intervals for meals or rest and the arrangement of rest days for young persons to be employed. No change shall be made without prior notice to the LD and completion of a new notice afterwards.
  • You should not be made to work during your intervals for meals or rest as shown in the notice.

Rest Days

  • You shall be given one rest day a week. 
  • Work on rest days is strictly prohibited.

Others

  • You should not be made to work underground such as a mine or quarry.

  • You should not be made to work in dangerous trades such as boiler chipping, manufacture of glass, mercury, sulphuric acids, etc.
  • You should not be allowed to carry any unreasonably heavy load.
  • You should be provided facilities for sitting where work must be done standing.

For the comprehensive guidelines, you can refer to the following link

A Concise Guide to the Employment of Young Persons (Industry) Regulations (pdf file)

Employment Rights for Children

According to the EO, "children" refer to persons aged under 15. The Employment of Children Regulations, made under the EO, prohibit the employment of children in industrial undertakings. Children aged under 13 are further prohibited from taking up employment in all economic sectors. Children aged 13 or over may be employed in non-industrial establishments, subject to a number of conditions. For example, parental written consent to the child's employment is required. Moreover, the parent should produce to the prospective employer evidence that the child has completed Form 3 or a valid school attendance certificate in respect of the child.

Those who have completed Form 3 shall not be employed:

  • before 7 am or after 7 pm;
  • for more than eight hours on any day;
  • to work continuously for more than five hours without a break of not less than 1 hour for a meal or rest; and
  • to carry any load exceeding 18 kg.

In addition to the above, those who have not yet completed Form 3 shall not be employed:

  • during school hours on any school day;
  • during the school term for more than
    • two hours on any school day, or
    • four hours on any other day;
  • during the summer holidays for more than eight hours on any day; and
  • in certain occupations or premises.

You can find more details and specifications below.

A Concise Guide to the Employment of Children Regulations (pdf file)

For the development of art or training, those under the age of 13 may work as entertainers subject to the special permission of the Commissioner for Labour. For details, please refer to the following guide.

A Guide to the Employment of Child Entertainers (pdf file)

If You Suspect Your Employer Breaking the Law…

An employer who contravenes the Employment of Young Persons (Industry) Regulations or the Employment of Children Regulations shall be guilty of an offence and is liable to a maximum fine ranging from HK$10,000 to HK$50,000 upon conviction.

If you want to enquire about the above regulations , please call Enquiry Hotline 2717 1771 (the hotline is handled by 1823). If you suspect your employer is contravening the regulations, you can lodge a complaint by calling the Complaint Hotline 2815 2200 or contacting the LD at the Headquarters of the Labour Inspection Division, Labour Department at 17/F, Harbour Building, 38 Pier Road, Hong Kong. All complaints will be dealt with in strict confidence.

Last review date: August 2017