Local labor laws establish the general principle of fair wages and mandate compliance with wage agreements. There is no mandatory minimum wage except for government-outsourced security guards and cleaners and foreign domestic workers. The law also sets maximum hours, rest days, statutory holidays, and premium pay rules. Employers can dismiss staff “without just cause” provided that they provide economic compensation, indexed to an employee’s length of service. Local law requires employers provide equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender.
All local workers, whether under a term contract or an indefinite contract, are entitled to such benefits as specified working hours, weekly leave, statutory holidays, annual leave, and sick leave. The law does not define “temporary contract” or “short-term contract.” It states only that a labor contract may be either for a defined term or of indefinite duration. Cases of labor-related malpractices are referred to the LAB.
Labor legislation provides for a 48-hour workweek (many businesses operated on a 40-hour workweek), an eight-hour workday, paid overtime, annual leave, and medical and maternity care. Although the law provides for a 24-hour rest period each week, workers frequently agreed to work overtime to compensate for low wages. The Labor Department provided assistance and legal advice to workers upon request.
Local custom favored unwritten labor contracts of indefinite duration, except in the case of migrant workers, who were issued written contracts for specified terms. Labor groups reported that employers increasingly used temporary contracts to circumvent obligations to pay for such workers’ benefits as pensions, sick leave, and paid holidays. The short-term nature of the written contracts made it easier to dismiss workers through nonrenewal.
The Labor Department enforced occupational safety and health regulations, and failure to correct infractions could lead to prosecution. The law includes a requirement that employers provide a safe working environment.
According to official statistics, at the end of April, there were 99,503 nonresident workers, who accounted for approximately 29 percent of the population. They came mostly from the Mainland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Most of them worked in the restaurant and hotel industry, but others found employment as domestic servants, in the gaming and entertainment sectors, or in construction and retail trade. They often complained of discrimination in the workplace. The Macau Lawyers Association claimed that foreign workers were often paid less than their Macau counterparts.
Nonresident worker associations and the International Labor Organization expressed concern about the Law on the Employment of Nonresident Workers, which requires foreign workers who left their jobs for any cause not held to be just to depart the SAR for six months before they could start new employment. Labor officials responded that the law, meant to deter “job hopping,” was not implemented if a worker could demonstrate a just cause, such as abuse, nonpayment of wages, or contract violation, for wishing to terminate a contract. However, the lack of coordination between the LAB, which handled complaints, and the Immigration Department meant that workers filing complaints could be dismissed, deprived of their immigration status, and forced to depart before their complaints could be resolved.