Labour Relations Ordinance


Published: 2013-04-25

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Cap 55 - Labour Relations Ordinance 1

Chapter: 55 Labour Relations Ordinance Gazette Number Version Date

Long title E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


To provide for improvement of labour-management relations and the settlement of trade disputes and matters
incidental thereto.


[1 August 1975]


(Originally 55 of 1975)
(*Format changes—E.R. 1 of 2013)

_________________________________________________________________________________
Note:
* The format of the Ordinance has been updated to the current legislative styles.

Part: 1 Preliminary E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013




Section: 1 Short title and commencement E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) This Ordinance may be cited as the Labour Relations Ordinance.
(2) Part 5 shall come into operation on a day to be appointed by the Chief Executive in Council by notice in the

Gazette. (Amended 56 of 2000 s. 3)
(Amended E.R. 1 of 2013)


Section: 2 Interpretation E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


In this Ordinance, unless the context otherwise requires-
arbitration (仲裁) means arbitration in a trade dispute under Part 3;
arbitration tribunal (仲裁庭) means an arbitration tribunal appointed under section 12;
board of inquiry (調查委員會) means a board of inquiry appointed under section 22;
Commissioner (處長) means the Commissioner for Labour;
conciliation (調停) means a discussion or action initiated or undertaken by a conciliation officer to assist the parties

to a trade dispute to reach a settlement of the trade dispute; (Amended 15 of 2012 s. 11)
conciliation officer (調停員) means an officer of the Labour Relations Division of the Labour Department who is

authorized by the Commissioner under section 3(c) to initiate or undertake conciliation; (Amended 15 of 2012 s.
11)

employee (僱員) means any person who has entered into or works under (or, in the case of a contract which has been
terminated, worked under) a contract with an employer, whether the contract is by way of manual labour,
clerical work or otherwise, is express or implied, oral or in writing, and whether it is a contract of service or
apprenticeship or a contract personally to execute any work or labour;

employer (僱主) means the person by whom an employee is (or, in a case where the employment has ceased, was)
employed;

mediator (調解員) means a single mediator or a board of mediation appointed under section 11A; (Added 76 of 1997
s. 2. Amended 15 of 2012 s. 11)

party (一方) means a party to a trade dispute;
special conciliation (特別調停) means a discussion or action initiated or undertaken by a special conciliation officer

to assist the parties to a trade dispute to reach a settlement of the trade dispute; (Amended 15 of 2012 s. 11)
special conciliation officer (特派調停員) means a senior officer of the Labour Relations Division of the Labour

Department, or any other public officer or person, who is authorized by the Commissioner under section 5 to
initiate or undertake special conciliation; (Amended 15 of 2012 s. 11)



Cap 55 - Labour Relations Ordinance 2

trade dispute (勞資糾紛) means any dispute or difference between employers and employees, or between employees
and employees, connected with the employment or non-employment, or the terms of employment, or with the
conditions of or affecting employment, of any person.

(Amended E.R. 1 of 2013)

Part: 2 Conciliation E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013




Section: 3 Conciliation E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


Where a trade dispute exists or is apprehended the Commissioner may, with the object of promoting settlement of the
trade dispute,-

(a) inquire into the causes and circumstances of the trade dispute;
(b) take such steps as to him may seem expedient for the purpose of assisting the parties to reach a settlement

of the trade dispute;
(c) authorize a conciliation officer to initiate or undertake conciliation.


Section: 4 Report by conciliation officer E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) Where a conciliation officer has attempted conciliation but no settlement of the trade dispute has been reached,
the conciliation officer shall without delay report the matter to the Commissioner.

(2) In a report under subsection (1), the conciliation officer shall set out, in addition to any other information which
he considers will be of assistance to the Commissioner, such facts as appear to him to be agreed by all or any of
the parties and such facts as appear to him to be in dispute between any of the parties.


Section: 5 Special conciliation E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) On receipt of a report under section 4, the Commissioner may authorize a special conciliation officer to initiate
or undertake special conciliation.

(2) The Commissioner, instead of authorizing a conciliation officer under section 3(c), may, if he is of the opinion
that the circumstances of the trade dispute so warrant, authorize a special conciliation officer to initiate or
undertake special conciliation.


Section: 6 Publication of special conciliation E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


The Commissioner may publish the name of the special conciliation officer authorized under section 5 and particulars
relating to the parties in such manner as he thinks fit.

Section: 7 Report by special conciliation officer E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) Where a special conciliation officer has attempted special conciliation but no settlement of the trade dispute has
been reached, the special conciliation officer shall without delay report the matter to the Commissioner.

(2) In a report under subsection (1), the special conciliation officer shall set out, in addition to any other information
which he considers will be of assistance to the Commissioner, such facts as appear to him to be agreed by all or
any of the parties and such facts as appear to him to be in dispute between any of the parties.


Section: 8 Memorandum of settlement of trade dispute E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


Where a settlement of a trade dispute is reached by conciliation or special conciliation, a memorandum of the terms of
the settlement shall be drawn up and signed by the parties, or their representatives, and a copy of the memorandum
shall be delivered to the Commissioner.




Cap 55 - Labour Relations Ordinance 3

Section: 9 Privileged communications E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


Anything communicated to a conciliation officer or special conciliation officer in connection with the performance of
his functions under this Ordinance shall not be admissible in evidence in any proceedings before an arbitration tribunal
or board of inquiry, except with the consent of the person who communicated it to the conciliation officer or special
conciliation officer.

(Amended 76 of 1997 s. 3)
[cf. 1971 c. 72 s. 146(6) U.K.]


Section: 10 Submission to Chief Executive in Council E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) On receipt of a report under section 4 or, where a special conciliation officer has been appointed, a report under
section 7, the Commissioner may submit a report on the trade dispute to the Chief Executive in Council with
such recommendation as he thinks fit. (Amended 76 of 1997 s. 4)

(2) In a report under subsection (1), the Commissioner shall set out such matters relating to the trade dispute as he
considers will be of assistance to the Chief Executive in Council.

(Amended 56 of 2000 s. 3)

Section: 11 Reference to arbitration or board of inquiry E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


The Chief Executive in Council may, on considering a report and recommendation submitted under section 10,-
(Amended 56 of 2000 s. 3)

(a) with the consent of the parties, refer the trade dispute to arbitration;
(b) refer the trade dispute to a board of inquiry; or
(c) take such other action as the circumstances of the trade dispute may warrant.


Part: 2A Mediation E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(Part 2A added 76 of 1997 s. 5)

Section: 11A Appointment of mediator or mediation board E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) The Commissioner may, where a trade dispute exists and whether or not conciliation or special conciliation has
been attempted by a conciliation officer or special conciliation officer, appoint a mediator or a board of
mediation consisting of 2 or more persons to mediate the trade dispute.

(2) Where the Commissioner appoints a board of mediation he shall nominate one of the members to be the
President of the board.


Section: 11B Powers of mediator E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


A mediator may inquire into the causes and circumstances of a trade dispute and, without limiting the foregoing, may-
(a) visit premises where parties to the trade dispute or other interested parties are employed or carry on

business;
(b) conduct interviews with the parties to the trade dispute or other interested parties;
(c) make such observations or do such other things as the mediator considers will assist in mediating the

dispute; and
(d) make recommendations to the parties respecting the settlement of the trade dispute and may make such

recommendations public.

Section: 11C Protection of mediator E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


No mediator shall be liable to any suit or other proceeding for any act or thing done by him bona fide as a mediator.




Cap 55 - Labour Relations Ordinance 4

Section: 11D Privileged communications E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


Anything communicated to a mediator in connection with the performance of his functions under this Ordinance shall
not be admissible in evidence in any proceedings, including any proceedings before an arbitration tribunal or board of
inquiry, except with the consent of the person who communicated it to the mediator.

Section: 11E Remuneration of mediator E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


The Commissioner may pay to a mediator such remuneration out of the general revenue as he thinks fit.

Part: 3 Arbitration E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013




Section: 12 Arbitration tribunal E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) Where under section 11 the Chief Executive in Council refers a trade dispute to arbitration, he shall appoint an
arbitration tribunal which shall consist of-
(a) a sole arbitrator; or
(b) 3 arbitrators, one of whom shall be appointed as the chairman.

(2) The Chief Executive in Council shall, when appointing an arbitration tribunal under subsection (1), specify the
period within which the arbitration shall be concluded.

(3) For the purpose of facilitating the appointment of an arbitrator to an arbitration tribunal under subsection (1), the
Chief Executive shall constitute a panel of persons who appear to him to be suitable for such appointment.

(Amended 56 of 2000 s. 3)

Section: 13 Hearing to be in private E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


An arbitration shall be conducted in private.

Section: 14 Place of hearing E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


An arbitration tribunal shall sit for the conduct of an arbitration at such places and times as, having regard to the
convenience of the parties and witnesses, it thinks fit.

Section: 15 Language of arbitration E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


An arbitration shall be conducted in the English or Chinese language as the arbitration tribunal thinks fit.

Section: 16 Right of audience E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) Subject to subsection (3), the following persons shall have a right of audience before an arbitration tribunal-
(a) any party;
(b) an office bearer of a registered trade union or of an association of employers, if-

(i) the trade union or association is a party; or
(ii) members of the trade union or association are parties;

(c) if all parties agree, a barrister or solicitor representing a party; and
(d) subject to subsection (2), any other person representing a party.

(2) An office bearer of a registered trade union or of an association of employers, or a barrister or solicitor, shall not
have a right of audience on behalf of a party under subsection (1)(d).

(3) A person referred to in subsection (1)(b) or (d) shall have a right of audience on behalf of a party only if he is
authorized in writing by the party to represent it.





Cap 55 - Labour Relations Ordinance 5

Section: 17 Evidence E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) For the purposes of an arbitration, an arbitration tribunal may require any person-
(a) to furnish, in writing or otherwise, such particulars in relation to such matters as it may specify;
(b) to attend before it and give evidence on oath or otherwise;
(c) to produce such documents as it may specify.

(2) A requirement of an arbitration tribunal under subsection (1) shall be enforceable in like manner as an order of
the Court of First Instance. (Amended 92 of 1975 s. 59; 25 of 1998 s. 2)

(3) For the purposes of an arbitration, an arbitration tribunal shall not be bound by the rules of evidence in civil or
criminal proceedings.


Section: 18 Use of evidence in civil or criminal proceedings E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


Evidence given by a person in an arbitration shall not be admissible against him in any civil or criminal proceedings
by or against him, except where he is charged with an offence under Part V (Perjury) of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap
200).

Section: 19 Award of an arbitration tribunal E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) On an arbitration the arbitration tribunal shall make such award as it thinks fit.
(2) Where under section 12(1) an arbitration tribunal consists of 3 arbitrators, an award may be made by any 2

arbitrators.
(3) The arbitration tribunal shall submit the award to the Chief Executive in Council, who shall as soon as possible

cause it to be published in such manner as he thinks fit. (Amended 56 of 2000 s. 3)

Section: 20 Remuneration of arbitrator E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


The Chief Executive may pay to an arbitrator such remuneration out of the general revenue of Hong Kong as he thinks
fit.

(Amended 56 of 2000 s. 3)

Section: 21 Arbitration Ordinance not to apply E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


The Arbitration Ordinance (Cap 609) shall not apply to any arbitration, or to any award made by an arbitration
tribunal, under this Ordinance.

(Amended 17 of 2010 s. 112)

Part: 4 Board of Inquiry E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013




Section: 22 Board of inquiry E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) Where under section 11 the Chief Executive in Council refers a trade dispute to a board of inquiry, he shall
appoint a board of inquiry consisting of one or more members as he thinks fit.

(2) If a board of inquiry appointed under subsection (1) consists of two or more members, the Chief Executive in
Council shall nominate a member to be the President of the board of inquiry.

(3) The Chief Executive in Council shall, when appointing a board of inquiry under subsection (1), specify the
period within which the board of inquiry shall submit a report of its findings.

(Amended 56 of 2000 s. 3)

Section: 23 Terms of reference and report of board of inquiry E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) A board of inquiry shall inquire into the causes and circumstances of a trade dispute and shall submit a report of
its findings to the Chief Executive in Council. (Amended 56 of 2000 s. 3)



Cap 55 - Labour Relations Ordinance 6

(2) A board of inquiry may include in a report submitted under subsection (1) such recommendation as it thinks fit.
(3) A board of inquiry may, before submitting a report of its finding, submit such interim reports as it thinks fit.
(4) The Chief Executive in Council shall as soon as possible after the receipt of a report of a board of inquiry cause

it to be published in such manner as he thinks fit. (Amended 56 of 2000 s. 3)

Section: 24 Hearing to be in public or in private E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


The proceedings of a board of inquiry may be held in public or in private as the board of inquiry thinks fit.

Section: 25 Place of hearing E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


A board of inquiry shall sit at such places and times as, having regard to the convenience of the parties and witnesses,
it thinks fit.

Section: 26 Language of proceedings E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


The proceedings before a board of inquiry shall be conducted in the English or Chinese language as the board of
inquiry thinks fit.

Section: 27 Right of audience E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) Subject to subsection (3), the following persons shall have a right of audience before a board of inquiry-
(a) any party;
(b) an office bearer of a registered trade union or of an association of employers, if-

(i) the trade union or association is a party; or
(ii) members of the trade union or association are parties; and

(c) subject to subsection (2), any person (including a barrister or solicitor) representing a party.
(2) An office bearer of a registered trade union or of an association of employers shall not have a right of audience

on behalf of a party under subsection (1)(c).
(3) A person referred to in subsection (1)(b) or (c) (other than a barrister or solicitor) shall have a right of audience

on behalf of a party only if he is authorized in writing by the party to represent it.

Section: 28 Evidence E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) For the purposes of an inquiry, a board of inquiry may require any person-
(a) to furnish, in writing or otherwise, such particulars in relation to such matters as it may specify;
(b) to attend before it and give evidence on oath or otherwise;
(c) to produce such documents as it may specify.

(2) A requirement of a board of inquiry under subsection (1) shall be enforceable in like manner as an order of the
Court of First Instance. (Amended 92 of 1975 s. 59; 25 of 1998 s. 2)

(3) For the purposes of an inquiry, a board of inquiry shall not be bound by the rules of evidence in civil or criminal
proceedings.


Section: 29 Use of evidence in civil or criminal proceedings E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


Evidence given by a person before a board of inquiry shall not be admissible against him in any civil or criminal
proceedings by or against him, except where he is charged with an offence under Part V (Perjury) of the Crimes
Ordinance (Cap 200).

Section: 30 Contempts to be offences E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


Any person who, at a hearing by a board of inquiry,-
(a) uses a threatening or insulting expression to or concerning or in the presence of the board of inquiry; or
(b) behaves in an insulting manner or wilfully interrupts the proceedings,



Cap 55 - Labour Relations Ordinance 7

shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine at level 1 and to imprisonment for 3 months.
(Amended E.R. 1 of 2013)


Section: 31 Protection of members of board of inquiry, etc. E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


(1) No member of a board of inquiry shall be liable to any suit or other proceeding for any act or thing done by him
bona fide as such member of the board of inquiry:

Provided that nothing in this subsection shall be deemed to limit the power of the Court of First Instance to make
an order of mandamus, certiorari or prohibition in relation to proceedings before a board of inquiry. (Amended
92 of 1975 s. 59; 25 of 1998 s. 2)

(2) All evidence given before a board of inquiry shall be absolutely privileged, and no person giving such evidence
shall be liable to any suit or other civil proceeding in respect thereof.


Section: 32 Police and bailiffs to assist board of inquiry E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


Police officers and bailiffs of the court shall assist a board of inquiry, which is conducting an inquiry under this Part,
in such matters as the board of inquiry may require and may do all such things as are necessary for the purpose of
rendering such assistance.

Section: 33 Cost of inquiry E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013


The cost of an inquiry conducted under this Part shall be a charge on the general revenue of Hong Kong.

Section: 34 Publication of, and comments on, proceedings of board of

inquiry
E.R. 1 of 2013 25/04/2013



(1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings by reason of his
publishing a fair and accurate report or summary of any evidence received in proceedings before a board of
inquiry.

(2) No person shall-
(a) publish or otherwise disclose any evidence received in proceedings held in private;
(b) publish or otherwise disclose any evidence received in proceedings held in public the publication or

disclosure of which a board of inquiry has prohibited;
(c) publish any comment on any proceedings, or on any evidence received in proceedings, before a board of

inquiry until the report of the board of inquiry is published under section 23(4).
(3) Any person who contravenes subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a

fine at level 2 and to imprisonment for 6 months.
(Amended E.R. 1 of 2013)


Part: 5 Cooling-off Period


Remarks:
Not yet in operation

Section: 35 Making and effect of cooling-off period order


Remarks:
1. Not yet in operation
2. Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2

(1) Where it appears to the Governor in Council-

(a) that, in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, industrial action consisting of-
(i) a strike;
(ii) any irregular industrial action short of a strike; or



Cap 55 - Labour Relations Ordinance 8

(iii) a lock-out,
has begun or is likely to begin;

(b) that the situation arising out of the trade dispute is of such a nature, or on such a scale, as to be likely to
cause an interruption in the supply of goods or in the provision of services which might-
(i) be gravely injurious to the economy of Hong Kong or seriously affect the livelihood of a substantial

number of persons, or create a serious risk of public disorder, or seriously jeopardize the internal
security of Hong Kong; or

(ii) endanger the lives of a substantial number of persons, or expose a substantial number of persons to
serious risk of disease or personal injury; and

(c) that, having regard to all the circumstances of the trade dispute, it would be conducive to a settlement of it
by negotiation, conciliation, arbitration or the appointment of a board of inquiry if the industrial action were
discontinued or deferred,

he may make an order under this section. [cf. 1971 c. 72 s. 138(1) & (2) U.K.]
(2) An order under this section-

(a) shall specify the area of employment in respect of which the order is to have effect, that area being defined
in the order by reference to (or to any combination of) any of the following, that is to say, one or more
industries specified in the order, one or more undertakings or parts of undertakings so specified, and one or
more descriptions of employees so specified;

(b) shall indicate the scope of the trade dispute in consequence of which the order is made in such manner as
may appear to the Governor in Council to be sufficient to indicate the area of employment affected by the
trade dispute and the extent of matters to which the trade dispute relates;

(c) may require any person specified in the order, before the end of such period as may be specified in the order
for the purposes of this paragraph, to take such steps (whether by way of withdrawing or securing the
withdrawal of any instructions issued by or on behalf of that person or otherwise) as may be so specified for
the purpose of securing that the industrial action specified in the order is discontinued or, as the case may
be, deferred during the period of effect of the order;

(d) shall specify the date on which the order is to take effect and the period for which the order is to remain in
force;

(e) shall be published in the English and Chinese languages in such manner as the Governor thinks fit. [cf.
1971 c.72 s. 139(2), (6) & (7) U.K.]

(3) Notwithstanding anything in the Trade Unions Ordinance (Cap 332), any person who,-
(a) during the period of effect of an order under this section,-

(i) calls, organizes, procures or finances a strike, or threatens to do so;
(ii) organizes, procures or finances any irregular industrial action short of a strike, or threatens to do so;
(iii) institutes, carries on, authorizes, organizes or finances a lock-out, or threatens to do so;
(iv) penalizes or otherwise discriminates against an employee by reason of the employee taking part, or

failing or refusing to take part, in the trade dispute in consequence of which the order is made,
within the area of employment specified in the order or any part of that area; or
(b) contravenes any requirement under subsection (2)(c),

shall be guilty of contempt and may be dealt with in like manner as if he had been guilty of contempt of the
Court of First Instance. (Amended 92 of 1975 s. 59; 25 of 1998 s. 2) [cf. 1971 c. 72 s. 139(4) & (5) U.K.]

(4) In this section-
irregular industrial action short of a strike (未達罷工程度的非正式工業行動) means any concerted course of

conduct (other than a strike) which, in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute,-
(a) is carried on by a group of employees with the intention of preventing, reducing or otherwise interfering

with the production of goods or the provision of services; and
(b) in the case of some or all of them, is carried on in breach of their contracts of employment or in breach of

their terms and conditions of service; (Amended L.N. 123 of 1982)
lock-out (閉廠) means the closing of a place of employment, or the suspension of work, or the refusal by an employer

to continue to employ any number of persons employed by him in consequence of a trade dispute, done with a
view to compelling those persons, or to aiding another employer in compelling persons employed by him, to
accept terms or conditions of or affecting employment;

strike (罷工) means-
(a) the cessation of work by a body of persons employed acting in combination; or



Cap 55 - Labour Relations Ordinance 9

(b) a concerted refusal, or a refusal under a common understanding, of any number of persons employed, to
continue to work for an employer in consequence of a trade dispute,

done as a means of compelling-
(i) their employer or the employer of any other person or body of persons; or
(ii) any person or body of persons employed,

to accept or not to accept terms or conditions of or affecting employment. [cf. 1971 c. 72 s. 33(4) U.K.]

Section: 36 Duration of cooling-off period order


Remarks:
Not yet in operation

(1) Subject to subsection (2), the initial period during which an order under section 35 may remain in force shall be

a period not exceeding 30 days from the date it is to take effect.
(2) The Governor in Council may, if he thinks it is desirable to do so, extend the period of effect of an order under

section 35 to a period not exceeding 60 days in the whole.
(3) If the period of effect of an order under section 35 is extended under subsection (2), notice of such extension

shall be published in the English and Chinese languages in such manner as the Governor thinks fit.
[cf. 1971 c. 72 s. 140(2) U.K.]


Section: 37 Proceedings for contempt


Remarks:
1. Not yet in operation
2. Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2

(1) Proceedings for contempt under section 35(3) shall be brought in the Court of First Instance on application by

the Secretary for Justice. (Amended L.N. 362 of 1997)
(2) The Chief Justice may make rules providing for the procedure in proceedings for contempt under subsection (1)

and in the absence of such rules the Court of First Instance may apply such rules of procedure as it thinks fit.
(Amended 92 of 1975 s. 59)

(Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

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