If you’re considering moving to Hong Kong to live and work, you’ll want to research the likely salaries available for your profession, and the standard of living you could afford.
Hong Kong has a minimum wage which is set in law, and intended to protect the lowest earners in the country. This guide will walk through everything you need to know about the Hong Kong minimum wage, and how to research your own earning prospects in HK.
We’ll also take a look at Wise as a smart way to send and receive international payments while you’re abroad. Access hassle free cross-border transfers for a low fee, to send money with the real exchange rate and make it easier to manage your money.
In 2011, Hong Kong’s Minimum Wage Ordinance came into effect¹. This set a Statutory Minimum Wage (SMW) for all workers. The legislation was intended to protect those in low income jobs, while allowing Hong Kong to remain competitive internationally.
The minimum wage started in 2011 at HKD28/hour, and rose in stages to the current rate of HKD37.50/hour².
It’s worth noting that the SMW is described by the Labour Department as a wage floor, to protect grassroots workers, such as domestic employees.
The Hong Kong statutory minimum wage is set by the Minimum Wage Commission of the Labour Department. The last review and change to the minimum wage was announced in May 2019.
The statutory minimum wage applies across all of Hong Kong. There are only limited exceptions - such as students undertaking work experience, live-in domestic workers who receive free housing, and some specific situations, such as a family member living and working with their employer³.
The minimum wage is shown as an hourly rate but applies to all types of employment including part and full time, day rates, piece rated, casual and contracted staff.
The minimum wage does not differ by wage, but certain student interns and work experience students may be exempted from the minimum wage. If a student is undertaking work as part of their course of education, the employer does not legally need to pay them the statutory minimum amount.
Life in Hong Kong is fairly expensive. While the SMW provides a wage floor to give some protection to vulnerable workers, it doesn’t necessarily mean that life is affordable on the minimum wage.
Back in 2018, Oxfam called for a Living Wage in Hong Kong to be set at HKD54.70/hour⁴ - well in excess of the HKD34/hour minimum wage which applied at the time. Much like in other countries where Oxfam is campaigning for a Living Wage, the current SMW in Hong Kong still hasn’t reached this aspirational target. The latest increase, however, is the largest percentage jump in the minimum wage since the Minimum Wage Ordinance was introduced back in 2011.
If you’re interested in what you might be able to earn in Hong Kong, you can get useful information on salary ranges and averages through Teleport⁵.
The salaries on offer for many jobs in Hong Kong are extremely good on a global scale. In fact, the top 10 highest reported median salaries by role in HK are among the very highest in these professions in the world. If you’re moving to Hong Kong as a Product Manager, Data Analyst, Industrial Designer or Attorney for example, you could get a better salary in Hong Kong than anywhere else in the world.
You’ll also be able to get more details about the overall costs of living in Hong Kong, by heading over to Numbeo⁶. Here, live data is submitted by people all over the world, and aggregated to show the real time costs of life. This is a smart way to see how far your money will go in HK, no matter what type of job you end up in.
Living between countries or thinking of making a move? Wise could help you save when you send money abroad.
Whether you’re already living between countries, or just starting to think about moving abroad, you could save money on international payments with Wise.
As an expat, there will be occasions when you need to send or receive money internationally. Maybe you still earn an income from your home country and need to get paid in Hong Kong - or perhaps you still have bills to pay back home, and need to fund them from your Hong Kong bank account. Wise can help with low cost international payments which use the mid-market exchange rate.
All Wise transfers are arranged online for convenience and paid directly into the destination account - it’s safe, cheap, and often faster than using your regular bank.
Moving abroad to live, study or work is exciting but does require a lot of planning. Before you head off to Hong Kong take some time to think about how you’ll pay your way once you’re there. Understanding the minimum wage rules, as well as the average salaries by role type, can help you build a picture of the lifestyle you could afford. Don’t forget, you can also make your money go further when living between countries, if you use Wise.
Sources used in the article:
HK Labour Department - Statutory Minimum Wage
HK Labour Department - Minimum Wage Ordinance
Hk Labour Department - Minimum Wage FAQ
Elevate - A “living wage”for Hong Kong?
Teleport - Salaries in Hong Kong
Numbeo - Cost of Living
Sources last checked on 13-October 2020.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.