Taking into account that we are approaching Labour Day, we believe that it would be interesting to draw our readers’ attention to the basic framework of the Macau regulations concerning employment. Besides Law 4/98/M, which establishes the basic policy principles in labour/employment rights, the main regulatory piece of legislation in this regard is the Labour Relations Law (no. 7/2008), although there are several other ordinances that may be useful in specific cases. The main supervising entity is the Labour Affairs Bureau (with the acronym in Portuguese of “DSAL”).

The main principle of the laws concerning labour in Macau is that the same estipulate the bare minimum conditions that must be provided by the employer and thus that any contractual stipulation (even if agreed by the parties) that provides less rights to the employee is deemed void (and replaced by the applicable legal provision).

Starting with the basics, the minimum age of an employee is 18 years old. However, the employment of minors between 16 and 18 years old is allowed subject to several limitations and conditions (such as obtaining authorization from the parents). Employment of minors between 14 and 16 years of age can also be allowed in even stricter conditions (including the need to procure the authorization of DSAL).

It is not mandatory that an employment contract be agreed in written, except in the case of employment of minors (under 18 years old) or contracts with fixed term duration. The latter must include the domicile of the contracting parties, indication of the term and the reasoning for the fixed term (as opposed to being an open-ended contract), the position and duties, remuneration, working schedule, date of the contract and of the commencement of work. The parties can agree on the probation period, which cannot exceed 90 days except in some specific positions such as managers (can be increased to 180 days) and fixed term contracts (reduced to 30 days).

In terms of the working schedule, the same is limited to 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week. Based on the operation of the employer and provided consent is obtained from the employee, the daily limit can be increased to 12 hours, but the week limit is maintained and the employer must provide additional resting time to the employee. The employer must provide a break of at least 30 minutes after a continuous 5-hour working period, which will not be counted as working hours unless the employee is not allowed to leave the workplace during such break period. Changes to the working schedule must be agreed by both parties and in specific cases the parties can agree on the exemption of working time schedule.

In connection with the above, note that overtime work is defined as the work provided beyond normal working hours and requires the consent of both parties (entitles as well the employee to receive the normal remuneration plus an additional 20%). However, the employer may require the employee to work overtime in cases of force majeure (maximum 16 hours), if the employer is facing a considerable loss (maximum 16 hours) or if the employer is facing an unexpected increase in the amount of work (maximum 12 hours). Overtime work in the latter circumstances must be compensated with the normal remuneration plus an increment of 50% and an additional paid compensatory rest. Night and shift work is also subject to additional compensation.

In terms of weekly rest, the employee is entitled to one day of (paid) rest per week, although if the nature of the activity of the employer so requires or if agreed by the parties, the paid rest period can be set by the employer at a different frequency, provided the ratio of 4 days per month is maintained. In terms of annual leave, the employee can have a minimum of 6 days (paid) after the completion of 1 year of service – for contracts of an inferior duration but superior to 3 months, the employee is entitled to take half day for every month of service. The employee is also exempted from working during mandatory public holidays (as defined in the law) without loss of remuneration.

In terms of justified absences from work, the employee is entitled to 3 days in case of demise of any direct relative, 6 days upon marriage, 2 days with paternity or child adoption (to be extended to 12 days in the case of the demise of the mother), 12 days in the case of pressing need to provide assistance to family member, 30 consecutive or 45 non-consecutive days in case of sickness not related with work, 56 days of maternity leave (which also includes situations of involuntary abortion after 3 months of pregnancy). There are additional absences that are justifiable, but in any case relevant documentation must be provided.

The employee is not entitled to remuneration during the periods of justified absence, except for 6 days of sickness not related to work and maternity leave (if 1 year of service has been completed). Absence due to sickness / accident arising from work is subject to specific regulation (such as that the employee is entitled to remuneration equivalent to 2/3 of the base salary during absence).

It should be noted that the hiring of Macau non-resident workers is subject to authorization to be requested to DSAL, which entails a prior rather complex procedure. Moreover, employment of non-residents is subject to specific provisions not referred above.

As one can certainly understand, the complexities and intricacies of the employment regulations far exceed the mere synopsis above provided and thus we strongly advise the consultation of legal experts in any given situation, especially when engaging non-Macau residents. In that regard, we have been advising our clients for 30 years and appreciate the continuous trust that has been deposited to us.

Best regards,
Manuela António / José Costa Álvares