We're the worlds worst work slaves

Top News | Flora Chung 26 May 2016

HONG KONG has the longest working hours in the world, a global study reveals.

Hongkongers spend an average of 50.11 hours at their workplace each week, or 38 percent longer than the global average.

They also have fewer holidays (17.2 days) than the global average of 23 days.

The figures were announced by the Swiss financial services company UBS, which analyzed 68,000 sets of data from around the world and the annual working hours of 71 cities last year, using a basket of 15 different professions.

Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk- yan complained that long working hours are turning Hongkongers into "work slaves" and also discourage talent from coming to the SAR.

The study shows the French enjoy the shortest working week, with Parisians clocking in for just 30 hours and 50 minutes on average, followed by staff in Lyon, who worked 31 hours and 22 minutes a week.

While Shanghai has the least paid leave - seven days a year - no mainland cities are in the top 10 cities for longest working hours.

Under the mainland's labor laws, all employees should work no more than eight hours a day and no more than 44 hours a week on average.

The UBS findings about Hongkongers' working hours came amid growing demand for standard working hours in the city.

Chau Siu-chung, a unionist and employee representative on the Standard Working Hours Committee, described the study as yet another way to pressure the government into implementing standard working hours.

A three-month public consultation on standard working hours based on written contracts specifying working hours, rather than them being mandated in law, began last month.

The 23-strong government- appointed Standard Working Hours Committee pressed ahead with the second round of the public consultation without all six employee representatives, who quit the panel after calling a working week of 44 hours to be regulated.

Chau said most of the labor representatives are boycotting the consultation meetings as the committee rejected their opinions on legislation.

He said the union planned to launch within the labor sector a separate consultation to seek views on the legislative approach, such as implementing the regulation in stages according to the size of the companies to minimize the impact on the economy.

Bosses' representative Stanley Lau Chin-ho questioned the sources of the UBS study and its attention to detail, noting that the committee had previously conducted all-round research on the same topic.

"According to our own study, Hong Kong people work for an average of 43.8 to 44 hours per week, and that the number of people spending more than 44 hours at work every week makes up only about 18 percent of the city's workers," Lau said.

He warned that one-off implementation will cause a labor shortage and affect long-term economic development.

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