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Non-local workers reduction plan now in place PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 25 June 2009

by Sara Farr

The government's plan to cut back on the number of non-local workers is now in place, which means that from now on, companies with non-local workers will have to gradually substitute these employees with local labour.
During a presentation session yesterday, representatives of the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) showed how the new online system works and what guidelines need to be followed according to the new contract between the bureau, the General Workers Association (AGOM) and the company.
This government move is aimed at encouraging companies to hire non-skilled locals over non-locals, instead of renewing non-locals' contracts. With the contract, which will have to be signed by three parties – DSAL, AGOM and the hiring company – if a company's blue-card workers are nearing the end of their contracts, it is the company's duty and responsibility to ensure that new trainees or directly hired locals are already lined up to substitute the number of blue-card holders whose contracts are ending.
According to the new regulation, if a company has 10 blue-card workers or quotas whose contracts are coming up this year, the employer has the responsibility to find 10 local replacements. If the employer chooses not to replace the non-local, that is also fine, Shuen Ka Hung, director of DSAL said, emphasising that regardless, blue-cards will not be renewed once expired.
However, this is only applicable to companies with over 30 employees which also hire non-local non-skilled workers, and while the construction sector is excluded, the regulation is also applicable to the six gaming concessionaires.
With the online system, companies are asked to fill in all the relevant details and number of workers with blue-cards, those in training and those directly hired by the company, as well as the number of workers needed.
As an example: if a company has 98 blue-card workers or quotas in the first quarter of the year, and 15 local trainees by the quarter and 23 locals that were directly hired by the third quarter, that means that the company is still responsible for getting 60 locals until the end of the year.
For each local trainee, the government pays a monthly training subsidy of 3,500 patacas. It is up to the company to pay a basic salary, even if that is only stipulated at 500 patacas. If during the training and probation period, which cannot exceed three months unless otherwise specified, the trainee is hired as a full-time staff, and their monthly salary has to be at least equivalent to that he or she were already getting during training. In this case, 4,000 patacas. However, the basic salary has to meet three requirements: one – that it is at least 80 percent equivalent to the average of either what three employers are willing to pay or the average of what three workers are willing to get paid, whichever is the lowest; two – it can't be lower than that of non-local workers; three – that it be at least 4,000 patacas a month.
The regulation which is available in three languages – Chinese, English and Portuguese – states that the company has to hire 70 percent of the locals who are there as trainees. The remaining 30 percent that are not offered to continue on at the company because of the company's choosing will have to give back the training subsidy to the government. In addition, throughout the first year of the contract, if the company cancels the contract without just cause, it will also have to pay back the government subsidy attributed to that trainee, within a year. In any case, the company has to notify the Labour Affairs Bureau about the continuation or cancellation of the contract, and has 15 days to do so.
In order to better help companies hire local labour, both the Labour Affairs Bureau and AGOM have the right to hold training courses, with which companies will have to agree with, and this then counts towards employment.
Employees will have a right to at least 24 hour resting period a week in addition to public holidays. Work cover is also an item on the regulation which companies have to comply with. And should any issue arise, employers and employees will have to turn to the new labour law to solve them.
Shuen also said that companies which have not yet been contacted or which are not yet included in this new program because their blue-card quotas only expires in 2010, will be contacted by authorities six months before the date.
The new regulation is also flexible, Shuen said, adding that if a company has 10 cleaning and 20 security staff that are non-local workers, but that when the contract expires, realises it in fact needs 20 cleaning and 10 security staff, it can simply ask the Human Resources Office for an approval.
IT specialists at DSAL also said that while amending or updating information online, companies run the risk of having their details exposed, and as such can go in person to the bureau or call 83999473.

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