The city's minimum wage commission warns employers that it will likely impact the lowest-paying industries
Hong Kong has launched a six-week public consultation on Monday in response to calls to raise the minimum wage.
The Minimum Wage Commission is responding to unions and labour leaders who want to see the current HK$34.50 raised to HK$42 per hour.
The authorities also issued a warning that the move will likely impact the lowest-paying industries – a whopping HK$2.9billion extra.
Hong Kong first introduced a minimum wage of HK$28 per hour in 2011, and it has been rising every two years to meet inflation rates. The new rate will be announced on 1 May.
The current rate is almost half of Japan’s rate, and is slightly lower than its neighbour’s, Taiwan.
Singapore does not have a minimum wage, but it has made exceptions for two areas of work – cleaning professionals need to be paid a monthly minimum of $1,000; security guards, a minimum of $1,100.
Hong Kong’s proposed rate of HK$42 would allow workers working a nine-hour day for 26 days a month to meet their needs for a basic standard of living in the city, said the Labour Party.
The amount is based on Oxfam Hong Kong calculations made in 2016 for the living expenses of a two-person family.
However, Mak Tak-ching, a Labour Party vice-chair, believes that figure should go even higher.
“Even back in 2015, we found that a working couple would have to earn more than HK$13,000 a month if they had two children and one elderly person to support, meaning that the minimum hourly wage back then should have been HK$40,” Mak told the South China Morning Post.
According to a survey by the Census and Statistics Department, about 3% of workers in the 15 lowest-paying industries earn HK$34.50.
But more than a third of the workers are already earning between the current minimum wage and proposed HK$42 per hour.