Rest Days, Holiday, And Leave

In this section: 

In your employment contract, there should be a clause mentioning your entitlements to rest days, statutory holidays, and paid annual leave. Whereas written in the contract, these entitlements are actually guaranteed under the provisions of the law, that is, the Employment Ordinance Chapter 57. This means if your employer asks you to sign a separate agreement waiving your entitlements to rest days, statutory holidays, and paid annual leave, such agreement shall be considered void – even though it was signed both by you and your employer. 

What are Rest Days, Statutory Holidays, and Paid Annual Leave? 
Rest days, statutory holidays, and annual leave are essentially the same. They are the days on which you have the right not to perform any work for your employer. One of the main differences between them is concerning when they should be given to you by your employer. The following table summarises the differences between rest days, statutory holidays, and paid annual leave.

Rest days
Statutory holidays
Annual leave
All workers
All workers
Workers who have completed 12 months work with the same employer
At least one day (continuous 24 hours) in every 7 days
12 days each year. Some of the dates are fixed, some others change every year
Between 7-14 days each year, depending on the period of work for the same employer
Exchange with money
Not allowed
Not allowed
Not Allowed
Alternative day
Should be given within 30 days after the rest day on which the worker is required to work
Should be given within 60 days before or after the statutory holiday on which the worker is required to work
Not applicable


Rest Days 
According to the law, you have the right to have at least one rest day in every period of 7 days. It is up to the employer to choose which day to be your rest day – it can be Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. It can also be irregular. For example, your rest day for this week is Monday, but for next week it will be Sunday, and for the week after it will be Monday again. This is not an illegal thing for your employer to decide, as long as: 

          (a) the appointed rest days are given every 7 days, and
         (b) your employer properly notifies you about the appointed irregular rest days in advance. According to the law, such notification shall be given by the employer to the worker before the next month starts. 

‘One rest day’ means a continuous period of at least 24 hours during which you have the right not to perform any work for your employer. If your employer asks you to work on your rest day – even if it is only for one hour or two – she will have to choose another day to substitute it. 

The substitution day should be given within 30 days after you were asked to work on the rest day. Your employer will be the person who chooses what day will be the substitution day for you. By law, she is required to inform you the date of the substitution day no later than 48 hours after the rest day on which you were required to work. 

Under the law, the employer is not permitted to exchange rest days with payment. But such practice normally takes place in reality. In that case, you should bargain for the payment not to be less than your daily wage. Top

Statutory Holidays 
In addition to rest days, you are also entitled to Statutory Holidays. There are 12 days in one year which have been decided by Hong Kong government as Statutory Holidays: 

 1. The First Day of January (1 January)
 2. Lunar New Year’s Day
 3. The second day of Lunar New Year
 4. The third day of Lunar New Year
 5. Ching Ming Festival
 6. The First Day of May (1 May)
 7. The First Day of July (1 July)
 8. Tuen Ng Festival
 9. The day following the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival
 10. The First Day of October (1 October)
 11. Chung Yeung Festival
 12. Chinese Winter Solstice Festival or Christmas Day (the employer may choose) 

The dates of most of the Statutory Holidays change every year. For this reason, you have to keep yourself updated. Go to the website of the Labour Department to get the exact dates of the Statutory Holidays. 

Your employer is generally not allowed to ask you to work on Statutory Holidays. But if she does, she will have to find you an alternative day to replace the holiday on which you were required to work. The alternative day should be given within 60 days before or after the statutory holiday, and should be notified to you at least 48 hours in advance. 

In addition to find a substitution day, your employer has to give you holiday pay which rate is equal to your daily wage. However, you are entitled to holiday pay only if you have worked for her for not less than three months. 

Under the law, your employer is not permitted to exchange Statutory Holidays with payment. But such practice normally takes place in reality. In that case, you should bargain for the payment not to be less than your daily wage. Top

Paid Annual Leave 
Annual leave are days off you are entitled to take every year, in addition to rest days and Statutory Holidays. Whereas rest days and Statutory Holidays are the rights of all workers regardless their period of employment, annual leave are given only for workers who have worked for the same employer for a period of at least 12 months. The number of days of annual leave for each worker is also different – depending on the period of their employment with the same employer. The more years you work for your employer, the more days of annual leave you have.

If you have worked for your employer for…
…, you are entitled to the following number of days of annual leave (in that particular year):
1 year
7 days
2 years
7 days
3 years
8 days
4 years
9 days
5 years
10 days
6 years
11 days
7 years
12 days
8 years
13 days
9 years and above
14 days

If you do not take the annual leave you are entitled to, you do not lose your entitlement to them. Instead, you can accumulate them with the annual leave you will have in the next years of employment with the same employer. For example, if you did not take any leave during your first year of employment, you will have 14 days of annual leave in your second year of employment. If you have never taken any annual leave at all during your two years of work with the same employer, you are entitled to 22 days of annual leave in your third year, and so forth. 

Your employer does not have the right to deduct your wage if you take such leave, as long as the number of leave you take do not exceed the number of leave days you are entitled to. 

If at the end of your employment, there are annual leave that you have not taken, your employer should substitute those untaken leave with payment. The amount of payment for one day of untaken leave is equal to the rate of your daily wage. To get the total amount of payment you are entitled to, you should time your daily wage with the number of your untaken leave.

Converting your untaken annual leave into payment

Annual leave payment = Daily wage x number of annual leave

Maryati has worked for 1 year 9 months when her contract was terminated. She had never taken any annual leave. Her monthly salary is HKD 4,010. Questions: (a) How much is her daily wage?; (b) how many days of annual leave does she have?; and (c) how much does her employer should pay her for the annual leave she has not taken?

(a)    Daily wage                     = (HKD 4010 x 12 months) : 365 days
= HKD 48120 : 365 days
= HKD 131.83

(b)   Number of annual leave    = 7 days + (9/12 x 7 days)
= 7 days + 5.25 days
= 12.25 days      

(Note: 7 days are annual leave you are entitled to for finishing one working year. 9 is the number of months you have completed in the unfinished working year. 12 is number of months in a year)

(c)    Annual leave payment       = 12.25 days x HKD 131.83

= HKD 1615


FAQ on Rest Days, Statutory Holidays, and Annual Leave
Q1. What should happen if my rest day this week falls on the same day of a statutory holiday?
Under the law, you are entitled to both rest days and statutory holidays. So if they overlap with each other, your employer should give you an extra day off to replace either your rest or statutory holiday.  

Q2. What if I am required to work on statutory holiday or rest day, but my employer does not provide me with any pay or substitution day?
The important thing is to do is to keep records on it. You should write down the details on the days off when you are required to work, and that you are not given any pay or substitution day. You can claim the pay through  Labour Department later at the end of your employment.

Q3. I do not mind working for my employer for a few hours on my rest days. In that case, will my employer have to find a substitution day for me?
No. Your employer will not be required to substitute the rest days on which you perform works voluntarily for them. However, you should be noted that if you are REQUIRED by employer to work on rest day, even for a few hours, your employer  are obliged to substitute you with another rest day.

Q4. My employer always asks me to work until 10 a.m. on my rest days. But she does not require me to work until 10 a.m. on the next day. Do I still have the right to have my rest day substituted?
There is no clear guideline provided by Hong Kong government on this. But, legally speaking, what the law means by ‘one rest day’ is a continuous period of 24 hours. So it seems that your employer has not violated the law. You hence may not have the right to have your rest day substituted. Top

Help and Contacts
If you have further questions on rest days, statutory holidays, and annual leave which are not covered on this section, do not hesitate to contact us on +852 9565 7440, or the organisations listed below. The service provided by these organisations is free of charge:


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