Monday, May 2, 2011 Boss cuts wages for toilet breaks


Boss cuts wages for toilet breaks

A stingy boss has taken to deducting wages from workers for toilet breaks to offset the new minimum wage, a veteran unionist says.

Chan Yuen-han, vice-president of the Federation of Trade Unions, said that was only one of many cases in which some unscrupulous employers were trying to find legal loopholes in the new minimum wage law, set at HK$28 an hour, which became effective on Sunday.

Chan said the worker who lodged the complaint had her daily wage reduced by HK$14 for the 30 minutes a day she is allowed to spend in the washroom during work hours. The worker faces deductions if she spends more time in the washroom.

"I am very angry after hearing the complaint," Chan said. "We expect more unscrupulous employers will figure out more ways seeking to bypass the new law. The situation is likely to get worse once the economy becomes poor and workers need jobs badly."

Chan did not disclose details about the case as the worker was afraid she might lose her job if her boss knew about her complaint.

Former labour-sector lawmaker Kwong Chi- kin, legal adviser to the Councillors' Workers Association, said the Employment Ordinance did not specify what employees were entitled to when it came to using the washroom.

However, he said it was possible for the Labour Department to treat the case as an unpaid salary complaint and take legal action against the employer for unreasonable deductions. The department said the worker could contact its officers for assistance.

Kwong said the employee could sue the employer for breach of contract, in a civil case.

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