On 3 March 2021, the Government published two new Bills in the Gazette, the Revenue (Stamp Duty) Bill 2021 and Employment (Amendment) Bill 2021, both to be introduced into the Legislative Council on 17 March 2021.
The Revenue (Stamp Duty) Bill 2021
The Revenue (Stamp Duty) Bill 2021 seeks to give effect to the proposal to increase the rate of Stamp Duty on share transfers as announced by the Financial Secretary in the 2021-22 Budget, being part of the government’s measures to increase government revenue in the current period of economic downturn.
The current proposal is to increase the rate of stamp duty payable on contract notes for sale or purchase of Hong Kong shares from 0.1% to 0.13%.
Employment (Amendment) Bill 2021
The Employment (Amendment) Bill 2021 seeks to amend the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57 of the Laws of Hong Kong) (the “EO”) to increase progressively the number of statutory holidays from 12 days by five increments at a two-year interval each until it reaches 17 days on par with the number of general holidays (other than Sundays).
Under the current employment regime in Hong Kong, statutory holidays are statutory employment benefits under the EO. An increase in the number of statutory holidays will apply and benefit across the board to all employers and eligible employees, including foreign domestic helpers working in Hong Kong and their employers.
The progressive increase is considered to be necessary in order to provide sufficient time for preparations and adjustments on the manpower and operating costs of employers, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises.
The current recommendation is for the five additional days of Statutory Holidays to fall on General Holidays that are currently not Statutory Holidays, to be increased in the following sequence: the Birthday of the Buddha, the first weekday after Christmas Day, Easter Monday, Good Friday and the day following Good Friday.