Gov’t proposes labor law changes

DSAL director Wong Chi Hong

The Macau government’s intended amendments to the Labor Law will add “flexibility, negotiability and functionality” to the current legal regime by establishing seven priority changes, the Labor Affairs Bureau (DSAL) informed the media in a press conference yesterday at their headquarters. A public consultation on the matter will launch today.

Among the changes proposed by DSAL director Wong Chi Hong is the addition of three to five days of paid paternity leave, as well as the possibility of an additional 14 days of unpaid leave for new mothers (after the 56 paid days granted by maternity leave) in cases where their absence from work can be justified.

The proposal also addresses the much-discussed topic of workers’ rights to enjoy an additional rest day for public holidays that coincide with their weekly rest day – an issue that the current law does not regulate and that several lawmakers have demanded be amended.

The new proposal provides that whenever a public holiday overlaps with an employee’s rest day, the employer should determine an added rest day for the employee within a period of 30 days.

Another proposed change is the introduction of a mechanism that allows employees to, by written agreement with their employer, select any three out of a total of 10 obligatory public holidays in which they will take leave from work.

DSAL said the mechanism should “help to manage human resources.” 

The current law also affords employees who must work on a public holiday an additional day of leave within 30 days, which the government proposes to amend to 90 days.

The current law stated that employees who work on public holidays must be compensated with salary for that day, plus either a compensatory rest day or double the amount of paid compensation. The proposal would amend this to compensation of two rest days, triple the amount of paid compensation, or both a rest day and one day of extra payment.

Wong stated that these revisions were formulated from “opinions collected and suggestions from representatives of the employers and employees at the Coordination of the Social Affairs,” noting that priority was given to “the issues that society pays more importance.”

The proposal is open to submissions from the public over the next 45 days (until November 8), after which results will be analyzed and considered as part of the final bill. This will then be sent to the Legislative Assembly for debate and approval.

In order to facilitate this process, DSAL has launched a dedicated website where members of the public may access and download the proposal as well as make their submissions.

Minimum wage only for 2019

Questioned by the media during the press conference, representatives of the Labor Affairs Bureau confirmed that the minimum wage would only be discussed during the first quarter of 2019. The confirmation follows information aired by Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong, when he informed of such date at the Legislative Assembly (AL) in late March this year. Choi Kit Wa, deputy head of the division of information and studies of DSAL said that the work “is already planned in the policy address for 2018 and 2019,” being expected to reach the AL in the first trimester of 2019.

Part-time work to have new regulations

In the double announcement made yesterday by the Labor Affairs Bureau, the officials also said that a part-time work regime will finally get the green light, after a document announcing a public consultation was presented.

The new regime was said to be justified by a need for a “more flexible and resilient way of working,” that was said to have been raised by society and necessitated by the “MSAR’s social and economical development.”

The document, which proposes to allow the population to adjust their work to study and family needs, sets out a group of rules to grant workers formal employment protection, keeping most of their social safeguards.

It defines part-time employment as “any work that does not exceed 72 hours for each four-week [period],” work that needs to be agreed between employers and employees and that will be subject to a “written supporting document.” With regards to the latter, Choi Kit Wa, deputy head of the division of information and studies of DSAL said, “it doesn’t need to be a formal contract but a ‘certificate’ that proves the work relationship.”

The regime also sets out to  regulate  part –
time work, such as through the inclusion of a system where both parties can agree on compensation for “overtime” and/or in “days of weekly rest” or “public holiday.”

It is also proposed that the worker retains rights such as “sick leave” and “maternity leave,” although of a non-remunerated kind.

On the other hand, is suggested that regimes such as probation period, annual leave, prior notice, compensation for termination of contract and payments for social welfare, would not apply to this system.

Choi further remarked that the regime would only be applied to resident workers.

“We suggest that this regime wouldn’t apply to non-resident workers. Our purpose is to allow more locals to enter the work market and to allow more options [for employers reducing in this way the need for non-residents].”

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