As the year comes to an end, we thought it would be useful to create a summary of all significant Hong Kong legislation changes and take away points in key Hong Kong employment law cases in 2021.
2021 – Wrapped Up 🎁
• Hong Kong’s newly introduced breastfeeding discrimination and harassment law came into effect on 19 June 2021.
• The Hong Kong Government announced that there will be no increase to the current minimum wage rate of HK$37.50 per hour until at least May 2023. See more here.
• Starting from 2022, one statutory holiday will be added every two years to the current 12 statutory holidays. This aims to bring the number of statutory holidays in line with the current 17 general (public) holidays.
• Tougher penalties have been introduced under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance to combat doxxing.
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2021 - Case law updates
BFAM Partners (Hong Kong) Ltd v. Gareth John Mills and Segantii Capital Management Ltd  HKCFI 2904
By Catherine Leung and Gladys Ching
The Court of First Instance recently upheld a 6-month non-compete clause and granted an injunction against a former employee preventing him from working for a competitor of his former employer until the non-compete period had expired. Read our article to see what this means for employers in regard to their ability to protect the interests of the business through non-compete clauses.
Breton Jean v HK Bellawings Jet Limited  HKDC 46
By Catherine Leung and Tanya Mirchandani
This case emphasises the importance of rest days which must be granted to employees under the Employment Ordinance in Hong Kong. The case involves a pilot that claimed he had not been entitled to rest days throughout his employment as he was expected to be on “standby” when he was not working and that this could not be counted as a rest day given that he was expected to attend work at short notice during these times. Read our case summary to see what the court’s view was on his claims.
Lengler Werner v Hong Kong Express Airways Ltd  HKCFI 1333
By Catherine Leung and Gladys Ching
In this case, the Court of First Instance held that an employer’s statutory right to suspend an employee from employment under section 11 of the Employment Ordinance only applied to a complete suspension from employment and not to a suspension from partial performance of duties. Read our case summary to see how the court came to this decision and what considerations employers need to make when suspending employees for any reason.
Zhang Qiang v Cisco Systems (HK) Ltd (HCA 1497/2010)  HKCFI 694
By Catherine Leung, Gladys Ching, David Kong
This case reminds employers of the importance of checking that the correct figures are inserted into a settlement agreement, particularly when dealing with an uncooperative employee. A typo in this case led to a decade-long lawsuit. Read more in this link.
Lam Siu Wai v. Equal Opportunities Commission  HKCFI 3092
By Catherine Leung, Gladys Ching and Katy Lee
The Court of First Instance in this case held that the employer’s right to terminate in accordance with the terms of employment was not subject to the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence. The employee therefore couldn’t rely on this to recover damages for the loss arising from their dismissal. Read our case summary to see how the court’s came to this conclusion in light of the facts of this case.
Cosme De Net Co Ltd v Lam Kin Ming  HKDC 445
By Catherine Leung, Gladys Ching and Tanya Mirchandani
An employer’s decision to summarily dismiss their employee was upheld due to the employee running a competing business in secret during their employment. Although the bar for summary dismissal in Hong Kong remains high, the court was of the view that the facts in this case justified this disciplinary action. Read our case summary for more information on the facts of the case.