Progress Report on the Work of
the Equal Opportunities Commission

(for the period of 20 September 1996 to 31 October 1997)


This paper provides Members of the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC) Panel on Home Affairs with information on the progress of work of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) since its establishment.

Work of the EOC since its Establishment

Six main areas of work undertaken by the EOC between 20 September 1996 and 31 October 1997 are given in the following paragraphs :

  1. Preparation of a Code of Practice on Employment under the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO)

      ‧The FSDO, gazetted on 26 June 1997, is expected to become operational by the end of November 1997. A Code of Practice on Employment under the FSDO has been issued for public consultation. The Code aims at providing practical guidelines to employers in complying with the law and drawing up equal employment opportunities policies.

      ‧The public consultation period will last for eight weeks from 22 October to 16 December 1997.

      ‧Some 12,000 copies each of the Code, in English and Chinese, had been printed for distribution. Copies of the Code are available at District Offices, branch offices of the Labour Department, the EOC and its web site.

      ‧The EOC would hold about 40 meetings with concern groups, employers organizations and trade union federations to explain the Code and obtain their views.

      ‧In addition, two public consultation sessions open to the general public would be held on 16 and 19 November 1997.

      ‧Opinions collected in the public consultation will be carefully considered and incorporated in the Code. Subject to the negative vetting of the PLC, the Code is expected to take effect in March 1998.

  2. Implementation of Anti-discrimination Legislation and the Number of Complaints Received and Actions Taken by the EOC

    1. Bringing the Legislation into Effect

        ‧The EOC began to implement the non-employment related provisions of the SDO and the DDO on 20 September 1996 and the employment related provisions of the Ordinances were brought into operation on 20 December 1996.

        ‧The Codes of Practice on Employment under the SDO and the DDO came into effect on 20 December 1996 after public consultation. Since January 1997, about 180,000 copies of the Codes have been distributed to the public.

    2. Handling Enquiries and Complaints

        ‧For the period of 20 September 1996 to 31 October 1997, the EOC received 5471 enquiries, of which 3840 were general enquiries and 1631 were specific enquiries related to the SDO and the DDO and the work of the Commission.

        ‧The EOC also received 132 complaints for the purposes of investigation and conciliation. Among them 16 cases were settled by conciliation and the investigation of 38 cases were discontinued. The reasons for discontinuing the cases were that the complaints were either lacking in substance, or that the alleged acts were not unlawful, or that the aggrieved persons had no desire to have the investigation continued. Seven cases were concluded without settlement. The remaining 71 complaints are still under investigation. Legal assistance has been rendered to the complainant in one case.

        ‧The EOC also investigated into 316 " other complaints", of which 290 (92%) were on discriminatory advertisements. Of these cases, 249 were resolved. A total of 5 writs were served on 4 newspapers which had published recruitment advertisements of a discriminatory nature.

        ‧Details of statistics on enquiries, complaints and other complaints handled by the EOC as at 31 October 1997 is at Annex A.

  3. Guidelines on Sexual Harassment

      ‧In the Code of Practice on Employment under the SDO, guidelines on how to prevent and deal with sexual harassment are set out. These guidelines promote the development and implementation of policy and practices which provide an environment which is free of sexual harassment.

      ‧The Commission has commissioned the development of two training modules related to the SDO. The Training Module on Preventing and Dealing with Sexual Harassment and the Training Module on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men at the Workplace have been launched in October 1997.

      ‧The materials in a training module include a training manual for trainers, teaching video and booklet on the subjects. Through structured training activities, the modules are designed to give trainers and trainees an opportunity to examine and discuss issues of sex discrimination and gender equality at the workplace.

  4. Review on the SDO and the DDO

      ‧The review of the substantive provisions of the SDO and the DDO will commence in December 1997, one year after the two Ordinances have been fully operational. The review will help the EOC identify the provisions which may require amendment in the light of operational experience. Based on the outcome of the review, the EOC will make recommendations to the government.

      ‧Action on the review of Schedule 5 of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance is in progress. Schedule 5 contains a number of exceptions to the provisions of the SDO.

  5. Public Education and Promotion

    The EOC hopes to create a better understanding of issues concerning discrimination and equal opportunities through public education. A four-pronged approach has been adopted :

      ‧Reach out to the public through a planned programme of publicity on TV, radio and the printed media.

      ‧Serve the target clients through a comprehensive educational programme of seminars/talks and publication of good management practice series and newsletters etc.

      ‧Involve community participation through a funding programme on activities promoting equal opportunities; and

      ‧Develop training modules for trainers, teachers etc. on how to eliminate discrimination and achieve equality of opportunities.

    Details of the public education and promotion programmes for the period of 20 September 1996 to 31 October 1997 are outlined in Annex B.

  6. Research

    Research helps the EOC to strengthen its knowledge on issues of discrimination and equal opportunities in Hong Kong and to guide its future directions. Since the inception of the EOC, five research projects have been commissioned. They are as follows:

      ‧A Baseline Survey on Equal Opportunities on the Basis of Gender collects public opinions on gender role and stereotyping, and on sex discrimination in various domains. The survey was completed in April 1997.

      ‧A Baseline Survey on Public Attitudes towards Persons with a Disability measures the public acceptance of and discrimination against persons with a disability. The survey is expected to be completed in early 1998.

      ‧A Baseline Survey on Employment Situation of People with a Disability in Hong Kong collects basic data on the employment status of and the difficulties faced by persons with a disability. The survey is expected to be completed in early 1998.

      ‧A Statistical Analysis Project on Census Data aims at analysing the Hong Kong census and by-census raw data as well as other relevant government reports or public documents to establish the trends in equal opportunities in relation to gender and disability issues. The survey is expected to be completed in early 1998.

      ‧A Feasibility Study on Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value examines the issues of implementing pay equity in the context of Hong Kong. The study is expected to be completed in March 1998.

Future Plans of the EOC

Looking ahead to 1998/99, the EOC's planned programme of activities are as follows:

    ‧work with RTHK on a TV drama series on equal opportunities issues, expected to be broadcast in February 1998.

    ‧work with the Home Affairs Bureau on a variety show to promote equal opportunities to be broadcast in TVB in February / March 1998.

    ‧publish a Code of Practice on Employment under the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance after public consultation, and other public education materials.

    ‧organize activities targeting students and young people to cultivate awareness of equal opportunities from childhood.

    ‧implement an " Equal Opportunities Employers Project " to promote equal opportunities in employment.

    ‧administer the provisions of the SDO, DDO and FSDO.

    ‧identify systemic discrimination issues.

    ‧complete legislative review of the SDO and DDO and recommending amendments to the Ordinances.

Equal Opportunities Commission
November 1997

Annex B

Public Education and Promotion Programme
for the period of 20 September 1996 to
31 October 1997

Since its inception a year ago, the EOC has spared no efforts in promotion and public education. The following has been accomplished : -

  • Published two codes of practice on employment under the SDO and the DDO.

  • Published four leaflets under the Good Management Practice Series and a quarterly newsletter, EOC News, which has a circulation of 100,000 copies to employers with at least 10 employees, labour unions, concern groups and related organizations.

  • Sent out educational letters to and conducted briefing sessions for publishers, advertising agencies and employment agencies on legislative provisions governing discriminatory advertisements.

  • Organized three large-scale seminars for about 1,000 educational institution administrators and human resources managers.

  • Given 230 talks to establishments and organizations on the requirements of the discrimination laws to about 17,700 participants.

  • Organized weekly public talks on the SDO and the DDO for the public.

  • In conjunction with Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), produced a series of 15 radio programmes on topics relating to discrimination and equal opportunities, broadcast between July and October 1997.

  • Issued regular press release on EOC activities.

  • Held press briefing after each EOC Meeting on items discussed at the Meeting.

  • Participated in the Civic Education Exhibition, Eastern District Festival, Career and Education Expo and the Carnival of Unity to promote equal opportunities. The estimated attendance for these functions are 16,000, 100,000, 185,200 and 50,000 respectively.

  • Provided resources to 30 projects through its Community Participation Funding Programme in promoting equal opportunities in the local communities.

  • Developed and produced two training modules on "Preventing and Dealing with Sexual Harassment" and "Equal Opportunities for Women and Men at the Workplace".