LC Paper No. LS 2/98-99
Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Legislative Council
on 10 July 1998
Legal Service Division Report on
Holidays (Amendment) Bill 1998
Objects of the Bill
This Bill amends the Holidays Ordinance (Cap. 149) (the Ordinance) to provide for a new Schedule of general holidays for 1999 onwards and to change its short title to General Holidays Ordinance .
LegCo Brief Reference
2. The Education and Manpower Bureau has issued a brief to the Provisional Legislative Council in June 1998 (Ref.: EMB CR 1/876/80 IX).
Date of First Reading
3. 8 July 1998.
4. General holidays are kept by all banks, educational establishments, public offices and government departments. They are listed in the Schedule to the Ordinance. This Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Schedule by deleting the Sino-Japanese War Victory Day (the third Monday in August) and 2 October (the day following National Day) as general holidays. From 1999 onwards, the Labour Day (the first day of May) and the Buddha's Birthday (the eighth day of the fourth lunar month) shall become general holidays. The maximum number of general holidays under the Ordinance shall therefore remain 17 days in a year.
5. The Labour Day has already been made a statutory holiday under the Employment (Amendment) (No. 5) Ordinance 1997 (Ordinance No. 100 of 1997). The Buddha's Birthday is not a statutory holiday.
6. The Bill also takes the opportunity to change the reference of "public holiday" to "general holiday" (see Clauses 2 and 3 and the Schedule) so as to clarify the scope of the Ordinance. Clause 3 designates as an additional general holiday the day following two general holidays that fall on the same day unless the Chief Executive in Council appoints another day in substitution.
7. In the Brief, it is stated that 33 organizations were consulted. The main view opted for the deletion of Sino-Japanese War Victory Day and 2 October as general holidays.
Consultation with the LegCo Panel
8. On 23 March 1998, the Manpower Panel of the Provisional Legislative Council was consulted on proposed arrangements for general holidays. Please see the extracted Minutes.
9. The legal and drafting aspects of the Bill are in order. Subject to Members�views, the Bill is ready for resumption of second reading debate.
HO Ying-chu, Anita
Assistant Legal Adviser
Legislative Council Secretariat
6 July 1998
PLC Paper No. CB(1)1279
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PL/MP
Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Manpower
Minutes of meeting
held on Monday, 23 March 1998, at 2:30 pm
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building
II Review on proposed arrangements for general holidays
(PLC Paper No. CB(1)1150(01))
4. The Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower (DS/E&M) briefed members on the results of the recent targeted consultation exercise on the deletion of two existing general but not statutory holidays from 1999 onwards to make way for the new general holidays on Labour Day (1 May) and Buddha's Birthday (the eighth day of the fourth lunar month). Members noted that of the 36 major employer and employee organisations, representative bodies within the financial services sector, and representatives of major religions which the Administration had approached, 28 responded. Of the 28 respondents, three had no special preferences while the majority of the 25 remaining respondents had opted for the deletion of Sino-Japanese War Victory Day (68%) and 2 October (60%).
5. At members�request to provide more details on the findings, in particular the views of employers and employees, DS/E&M agreed to provide the Panel with information on the number/proportion of respondent employer and employee organisations which supported deleting the Victory Day and 2 October.
Number of general holidays
6. As there was no overwhelming view on which holidays to delete, Miss CHAN Yuen-han reiterated her view that the Government should just add the two new general holidays to the existing holidays. In response, DS/E&M re-affirmed the Administration's policy decision to cap the number of general holidays in Hong Kong at the present level of 17 days a year which had been thoroughly discussed at the Panel and at a meeting of the Provisional Legislative Council. He also pointed out that as Hong Kong already compared much more favourably than its neighbouring countries and trading partners as far as general holidays were concerned, it might not be appropriate to increase the number of such holidays further, lest Hong Kong's economic competitiveness might be affected. According to the Administration, an additional holiday would increase the payroll by 0.2%, which amounted to $700 million.
Factors for consideration in deciding which holidays to delete
7. The Deputy Chairman considered that the public's preference for long weekends or several holidays in a row should be catered for. She therefore did not prefer deleting Easter Monday or the first weekday after Christmas Day. While agreeing that long weekends were desirable, Mr HO Sai-chu pointed out that it might not be necessary to provide for three long weekends in a year. The Chairman added that while the availability of three long weekends in a year might offer the public more flexibility in arranging their leave plans, it was not likely that they would take trips on all the three occasions.
8. As for other considerations, members did not express strong views in support of an even spread of holidays throughout the year but some members highlighted the need for reducing disruption to the financial services sector.
Which two general holidays to delete
9. At the Chairman's invitation to state their views, Mr HO Sai-chu suggested the deletion of the Victory Day and Easter Monday. Mr HO said that the former might be deleted as he did not consider it essential to designate a holiday to cater for the commemorative activities which could well be staged on the preceding Sunday while the latter could be offset by the Buddha's Birthday which was also a religious holiday. On the other hand, Mr HO Sai-chu was not in favour of deleting 2 October as it was also celebrated in the Mainland. The Chairman shared a similar view. Messrs James TIEN and Ronald ARCULLI indicated support for the deletion of the Victory Day and 2 October because this was the majority preference as revealed in the Administration's consultation exercise. When invited to comment on these two members�proposal, members present had not raised any objection to it.
10. In reply to a member question on the legislative timetable, DS/E&M advised that as arrangements for general holidays would affect commercial planning and decisions, the Government would try to submit the necessary legislative proposals to the new Legislative Council in July 1998.
11. In concluding the discussion, the Chairman urged the Administration to consider members�views carefully before reaching a decision. He also requested the Administration to organise activities to commemorate the Victory Day should it be deleted as a holiday. In response, DS/E&M undertook to follow up with the organisations which had not yet responded and would inform the Panel should there be sharply different preferences.