Equal Opportunities Commission


E-news Issue 307

There is room for improvement in Hong Kong’s family-friendly employment practices, EOC-funded study shows

There is room for improvement in Hong Kong’s family-friendly employment practices, EOC-funded study shows

An EOC-funded study released on 13 June found that there is insufficient family-friendly support in Hong Kong’s workplaces. Family-friendly Employment Practices (FFEPs) remain uncommon in Hong Kong, albeit the fact that carers constitute 60% of the working population.

The research study entitled “Mixed-methods Investigation of Family-friendly Employment Practices (FFEPs): From Work-Family Conflict to Enrichment” was funded under the EOC’s Funding Programme of Research Projects on Equal Opportunities. The principle investigator Dr Henry HO from the Department of Psychology of the Education University in Hong Kong carried out the research using a mixed-method approach.

In the quantitative component of the research, 85.6% of the 400 surveyed employees reflected that it is uncommon for Hong Kong employers to provide FFEPs. Although respondents desired flexible work schedules and special casual leave, only less than half of them had benefitted from the availability of such arrangements. As regards the in-depth qualitative interviews with employers and managers, most interviewees were not familiar with FFEPs and did not feel obligated to provide them. Instead, employers and managers expected their employees to ask for special accommodation from their direct supervisors for their family responsibilities.

The research found that employees with family responsibilities received the least family-friendly support in “accommodation and food services”, “manufacturing”, and “transportation, storage, postal and courier services” industries. Business leaders and industry stakeholders in these notable sectors are advised to work closely with the Labour Department and the EOC to devise solutions for overcoming industry-specific hurdles in implementing FFEPs.

The research team encouraged employers to have a written family-support policy and formally inform employees about the types of support that employees are entitled to.  Family medical insurance and critical incident support in case of health-related problems in the family or in times of crisis are also named by the research team as plausible FFEPs.