Letter of the week
Still in the dark ages

A small misunderstanding

The government has come up with an altogether more sensible explanation for what they are trying to achieve with new legislation about discrimination and expat salaries, as the SCMP reports:

Provisions for expat packages in the proposed anti-racism law will help rather than hinder companies' recruitment of the best employees for the job, the deputy secretary for home affairs said yesterday.

Mr Fisher said yesterday the proposal did not intend to make expatriate terms more difficult to get, nor would it add any more "bureaucracy" to the process, as some head hunters feared. Instead the exception was aimed at protecting companies.  "When the law is passed, a person who feels aggrieved [by a colleague getting differential pay terms] can bring a case against the employer," Mr Fisher said.

"We want to provide an exception in the bill to ensure people cannot bring a claim without good reason. The defence, if the case is brought against the employer, is that the staff have skills not readily available in Hong Kong and the staff are from overseas and not a Hong Kong permanent resident."

This does at least make some sense, though there are still some obvious absurdities here - surely it will make it more difficult to get expat terms (assuming anyone takes notice of the legislation), and it also seem to imply that the employer might want to stop their expat employees getting permanent residence.  Could you have an employment contract that specified certain benefits would cease if the employee became a permanent resident?  If that is possible, would the employer know whether the individual had become a permanent resident?  Would people really be asked to make the choice between the expat package or taking permanent residence?

I suppose we have to wait for the actual legislation will say, but I still find it hard to see how this is all going to work. 

What amuses me is that both the SCMP and The Standard came to the same conclusion about the intention of the planned legislation, and now the government is saying that it was all a misunderstanding.  It's not unknown for governments to float ideas in "off the record" briefings and deny them later, but it's a different matter when a senior civil servant is quoted directly.  What's going on here?


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Do you get a cheese allowance, OG?


Sssh - don't tell the taxman.


You could probably get top-slicing relief.

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