The Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2020 (“Ordinance”) was announced on the 19 June 2020. This ordinance has brought forward the Equal Opportunities Commission’s Discrimination Law Review recommendation which had been made 4 years previous. This has now amended the Hong Kong’s existing anti-discrimination legislation with an immediate effect.
Key employment-related amendments included within this change:
- The Sex Discrimination Ordinance will be amended so that both direct and indirect discrimination and victimisation on the grounds of “breastfeeding” will be against the law. This provision will come into effect on the 19 June 2021, unlike the others stated below which are now in effect.
- The Race Discrimination Ordinance (“RDO”) has now been amended, so that discrimination of an employee based on his/her “associate” race will be prohibited. The term “associate” has been changed from the previous term, “near relative”. This has broadened the scope of protection to include the following: Discrimination of an employee by association with his/her spouse/partner – Domestic partner – relative – carer – and/or any other persons with whom he/she is in a business/sporting or recreational relationship.
RDO also includes protection against racial discrimination/harassment by imputation. This means that if he/she racially discriminates/harasses a person who is imputed to be of a particular race, they will be held liable. Even if that person is not of that particular race.
- The protection from sexual, racial, and disability harassment has now been expanded within the workplace. Situations where there is no employment relationship with the employer, but the perpetrator and victim are “Workplace participants”, working in a common workplace, are now included in this protection. This also includes interns and also volunteers. With this now in place, employers may now be vicariously liable for any unlawful acts of harassment committed in any workplace, unless they can provide proof that they have taken practicable measures to prevent the perpetrator from committing the unlawful act.
All companies should ensure that their anti-discrimination policies are amended to these changes and that appropriate training is provided to all staff.