Research on Family-friendly Employment Policies and Practices in Hong Kong
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and the Women's Commission (WoC) jointly announced today (June 14) the findings of their study on Family-Friendly Employment Policies and Practices (FEPPs) in Hong Kong.
Speaking at a joint press conference of the two Commissions, EOC Chairperson Mr. Raymond TANG said, "We recognize that family is a foundation of society. The EOC is always in support of family friendly employment policies in the work place, so that both employers and employees benefit from better work-life balance."
"Regardless of family status, gender or disability of the employees, family friendly employment policies provide more flexibility to effectively combine work and other responsibilities or aspirations for individuals. This initiative would help employers and employees find ways that address work-life balance, to benefit business and in the end, reduce social costs," Mr. TANG added.
WoC Chairperson Ms Sophia KAO said, "The Women's Commission believes that a family-friendly working environment is conducive to the nurturing of harmonious families, thus enhancing the family function as a place of mutual support, care and love and for developing the next generation. Harmonious families are the foundation of a harmonious society, a common goal shared by all of us."
"In addition, the Commission sees it is important to provide an enabling environment in which women, and men, can share out family responsibilities and fully develop their potentials through participation in society in all aspects whilst at the same time achieve a better balance between work, family and life," said Ms. KAO.
FEPPs refer to programmes provided by companies or organisations designed to help employees balance work and family roles. The overriding objective of these policies and practices is to assist employees in managing their family responsibilities while also maintaining employment by offering more choices of flexible and varied work arrangements to cater for their needs.
Over the past few years, there has been a growing concern over the lack of work-family balance and there are calls for a more family-friendly working environment in Hong Kong. The two Commissions engaged the Lingnan University earlier this year to conduct a study to get a better understanding on the needs, awareness, prevalence and benefits of FEPPs in Hong Kong.
The study was conducted in three phases - (i) a literature review on previous studies on FEPPs conducted in Hong Kong and other places; (ii) a survey on enterprises of different sizes and nature to investigate the awareness and prevalence of the adoption of FEPPs in Hong Kong; and (iii) an employee survey to identify the major sources of work-family conflict among the working class.
"It was the first study of this scale in Hong Kong that covered both employers and employees. The literature review was completed in February 2006 and based on the findings we designed the questionnaires in the subsequent surveys. The employer and employee surveys were conducted between March and May 2006," said Professor SIU Oi-ling of Lingnan University at the press conference.
"Survey forms were sent electronically to 6,600 organizations, covering both large corporations and small and medium enterprises in different sectors and industries in Hong Kong. Among them, a total of 137 valid questionnaires were received, and these companies altogether employed over 160,000 employees, representing about 4.4% of the current working population in Hong Kong. For the employee survey, 735 employees from 17 companies were invited to complete a self-administered questionnaire and 653 valid responses were received," Prof. SIU said.
Key findings of the surveys are summarised at the annex.
"The survey results revealed a low awareness of FEPPs among the employers and a low prevalence of FEPPs in Hong Kong at the moment. On the other hand, responses from employees clearly demonstrated a strong support for wider adoption of FEPPs and the range of benefits that FEPPs might bring to both the companies and the employees," concluded WoC Chairperson Ms Sophia KAO.
"The analysis on the correlation between the adoption of the FEPPs and the work stress or other outcomes reported by employees also presented some very interesting findings, suggesting that FEPPs can lead to some intangible positive outcomes that are beneficial to the entire society," EOC Chairperson Mr. Raymond TANG said.
The WoC and EOC will continue to collaborate to consider the next step forward when the full study report is available in July 2006.
For media enquiries, please contact Mr. Sam NG (WoC) at 2136-2718 or Ms. Mariana LAW (EOC) at 2106-2226.