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Hiring employees in Hong Kong: Guide to hiring local & foreign employees.

Hiring employees in Hong Kong: Guide to hiring local & foreign employees

We have put together an overview of hiring employees in Hong Kong.

Hiring employees is an important step in operating a business, and there are certain guidelines and legal requirements involved in the process of employee recruitment. Continue reading to learn more.

What are the hiring requirements in Hong Kong?

Employees in Hong Kong must be at least 18 years old to be able to legally work. Individuals aged from 13 to 17 are restricted to the type of work they can perform.

Hong Kong’s Labour Department has established guidelines to prevent any discrimination (i.e., sex, disability or race) when employers hire employees.

These guidelines include:

  • Use a consistent selection criterion for recruiting employees
  • Shortlist candidates based on their skills and capabilities
  • Ask questions during the interview related to the job
  • Hire individuals based on ability, experience and skills
  • Application forms must not contain questions leading to discrimination
  • Avoid specifying a minimum and maximum age range when advertising for job openings

Never miss an important deadline with our detailed compliance calendar.

  • Get a clear picture of all the accounting, tax and HR deadlines
  • Avoid penalties and late fees
  • Keep your accountants or accounting firm accountable
Compliance Calendar

Hiring foreign employees in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong government encourages employers to recruit local employees first before hiring foreigners to fill in the vacancies.

Foreigners with the expertise, experience, knowledge and skills needed in Hong Kong will be allowed to stay and be employed legally in Hong Kong.

Foreign employees in Hong Kong are grouped into two categories: skilled professionals (i.e., doctors, software engineers and research and development (R&D) specialists) and semi-skilled professionals (i.e., technicians).

Skilled professionals will receive an Employment Visa, and semi-skilled professionals will receive the Supplementary Labour Scheme Visa.

Employment visa
SuitabilityForeign professional staff who have graduated from an academic institute in Hong Kong
Foreign professional staff and Chinese residents of the mainland who have not graduated from Hong Kong but have special skills, knowledge and experience that are not available in Hong Kong
ValidityOne year
Quota systemNo
Eligibility for dependant’s passYes
Restrictions on nationalityYes


Supplementary labour scheme visa
SuitabilitySemi-skilled professionals at technician level or below
ValidityOne year
Quota systemNo
Eligibility for dependant’s passNo
Restrictions on nationalityYes

Find out more about visas in Hong Kong in our Hong Kong immigration guide.

Can students be hired in Hong Kong?

Yes, students who are Hong Kong citizens or permanent residents can be hired to work full time or part-time and must contribute to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF).

Students hired as interns must also contribute to the MPF, and their salary can be paid on a monthly basis.

Foreign students can also be hired as interns, but they must meet the following conditions:

  • The internship must be related to the field the student is studying and arranged or approved by the institution that the student is studying
  • The internship duration is one academic year or one-third of the full-time academic program, whichever is shorter

What are the employer’s responsibilities in Hong Kong?

There are certain responsibilities employers must comply with, which include drafting the employment contract, filing the employer’s return, notifying the tax authorities about non-resident employees leaving the country and contributing to the Mandatory Provident Fund.

Drafting the employment contract

The information that must be included in the employment contract are:

  • Name of the position
  • Duration of the employment contract
  • The employee’s obligations
  • Starting date of employment
  • Number of work hours
  • Entitled benefits
  • Terms of contract termination

Filing the employer’s return

The Employer’s Return is also known as the BIR56A and Form IR56B, and employers are required to file it annually.

The Employer’s Return helps the Inland Revenue Department’s (IRD) assessment of the employee’s salary tax liabilities from 1 April to 31 March of each assessment year.

Information that must be disclosed in the Employer’s Return are:

  • The employee’s name
  • Nature of employment
  • Amount of remuneration
  • Details on non-cash and fringe benefits
  • Changes to the above information

Employers must provide the following information to make sure that the IRD assess the employee’s salary tax accurately:

  • Bonus
  • Cash allowances
  • Commission
  • Educational benefits
  • Housing allowances
  • Leave pay
  • Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF)
  • Salary
  • Termination payments

Tax clearance

A tax clearance certificate is required for employees who are leaving Hong Kong for more than one month, and it guarantees that the employee has paid all their taxes.

The Inland Revenue Ordinance (IRO) requires the employer to notify the IRD in writing of the employee’s departure at least one month in advance of their departure date.

The employer must also withhold any payments made to the employee for one month from the date of notifying the IRD or until a letter of release from the IRD is issued.

Find out more on the requirements in our Personal Income Tax guide.

Contributing to the mandatory provident fund

Employers must contribute 5% of the employee’s salary to the MPF every month.

The employer’s contribution for employees with an income of less than HKD 7,100 to HKD 30,000 is 5%, and HKD 1,500 for employees with a salary of more than HKD 30,000.

Find out more about the MDF in our guide to Understanding Mandatory Provident Funds in Hong Kong.


There are certain requirements and guidelines that employers must follow when hiring employees in Hong Kong. If you are hiring foreign employees, it is necessary that you obtain the right type of employment visa. Feel free to contact Acclime for advice.