VI. Young persons

In Hong Kong, young persons are those above the age of 15 but under the age of 18.

In general, young persons can be employed without much restriction, subject to two pieces of legislation governing their employment. The first is the Employment of Young Persons (Industry) Regulations ( Cap. 57C ), which pertains to young persons employed in factories or industrial settings. The second piece of legislation is the Employment of Young Persons and Children At Sea Ordinance ( Cap. 58 ), which pertains to young persons employed on ships and other marine vessels.

A. Young persons employed in factory/industrial settings

Work hour limitations

Maximum period of employment (inclusive of the time allowed for meals and rest) in a day

10 hours (between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. only), including time for meal or rest

Maximum working hours (exclusive of any intervals allowed for rest and meals) a day

8 hours

Maximum working hours a week

48 hours

Maximum number of working days in any week

6 days

Maximum period of continuous work

5 hours followed by an interval of not less than half an hour for meals or rest

Maximum hours worked in 2 consecutive weeks

Cannot exceed 96 hours in 2 consecutive weeks- maximum period of employment remains 10 hours/day

Overtime employment

Not allowed

Working during intervals for meals and rest

Not allowed

Rest days

At least one per week


Extra conditions are imposed to protect young persons employed industrially. For example, no young person shall be employed to work underground in any mine or quarry or tunnelling operations.

Second, no young person shall be allowed to carry any unreasonably heavy load. Young persons under the age of 16 shall not carry loads of more than 18 kg in weight.

Third, young persons “whose work is done standing,” shall be given opportunities and facilities to rest.

Fourth, no young person shall be employed in dangerous trades. Below is a list of dangerous trades as defined by the law ( Schedule 1 , Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance ( Cap. 59 )):

  • Boiler chipping;
  • The manufacture of glass from basic raw materials;
  • Manufacturing processes involving the use of arsenic, lead, manganese, mercury, phosphorus, or any compound of any of them;
  • Vermillion manufacture;
  • Chromium plating;
  • The machining or grinding of celluloid or magnesium, or of any article wholly or partly made of celluloid or magnesium in any manufacturing process;
  • The manufacture of hydrochloric, nitric or sulphuric acids.

B. Youth working at sea

This category of youth is defined as young persons and children who are employed at sea, on a vessel or ship.

Legal rights and protection

There are two subcategories of youths employed under the Employment of Young Persons and Children At Sea Ordinance ( Cap. 58 ), and each subcategory has specific legal rights and exceptions to some limitations imposed under this ordinance.

Children under age 15

Young Persons under age 16

Legal rights/limits

Not permitted to work

Ship master shall keep a register for the Director of Marine of all persons employed onboard

Exceptions 1

Unless the child or children are family members employed on same vessel


Exceptions 2

“A pupil on any school ship or training ship”- subject to approval from the Permanent Secretary of Education


It is an offence if these rules are broken

An offence, liable to a $10,000 fine

An offence, liable to a $2,000 fine