Date of sitting: 23.01.2002
Asked by: Hon LEUNG Fu-wah
Replied by: SEM
From April to June 2001, the Census and Statistics Department conducted a special enquiry on casual employment and published its report at the end of last month. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
of the average number of hours of work per week of the casual employees interviewed;
of the current number and percentage, as projected by the data collected from the enquiry, of casual employees in the territory who fall within the definition of employees on continuous contracts in the Employment Ordinance; and
as the enquiry report has pointed out that the number of causal employees in the construction sector decreased by 25 300 whereas the number of self-employed persons in the same sector increased by 11 900 as compared to last year, whether the Government has studied the causes of the shift in the numbers; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that, and whether it will conduct a study in this regard?
According to the survey results of the Census and Statistics Department, there were about 93 800 casual employees in the second quarter of 2001. These casual employees on average worked 38 hours per week, lower than the corresponding figure of 46 hours per week for the overall employed population.
The survey results indicate that amongst the 93 800 casual employees, some 8 600 worked at least 18 hours per week and had worked for their employers for 4 weeks or more at the time of enumeration. These casual employees could be regarded as being employed under a continuous contract (abbreviated as "4-18" employees). They accounted for about 9% of all casual employees. Another 7 200 casual employees worked less than 18 hours per week. Thus, they were "non 4-18" employees and accounted for about 8% of all casual employees.
As for the remaining 78 100 casual employees (i.e. 83% of all casual employees), they worked at least 18 hours per week, but had not yet worked for their employers for 4 weeks or more before the time of enumeration. In the absence of any information on whether or not they would continue to work for the same employers after the enumeration, the survey results could not clearly identify whether they were 4-18 employees.
The Census and Statistics Department conducted another special topic enquiry in the third quarter of 2001, collecting data on the number, working conditions and employees' benefits of non "4-18" employees in the private sector. The survey findings are expected to be available by mid-2002.
Between the third quarter of 2000 and the second quarter of 2001, the number of casual employees in the construction sector decreased by
25 300 . This was mainly attributable to the continued slowdown in the construction sector over the past year or so. In fact, as a result of the reduced work volume, the total number of employed persons in the construction sector (comprising employers, employees and self-employed persons) also fell by 16 900 over the same period.
As to the increase of 11 900 self-employed persons in the construction sector over that period, this was possibly related to more opportunities for self-employment generated in the construction sector as a result of increased sub-contracting arrangements for cost saving and enhanced flexibility.