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劉廼強 | 22nd Feb 2011 | China Daily (Hong Kong Edition) | (72 Reads)

We have a hard time getting people to agree to have minimum wage legislation, which is going to be effective on May 1. Some still think this does not make economic sense as higher wage level will inevitably imply some layoffs especially among the less employable ones. I am all for it and I think these people should be taken care of by the government through Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) instead of working.

But when I read in the newspaper how the new system is going to work, I must admit frankly that I don’t quite know how to do the calculations. My intellect is above average, and if I cannot do the arithmetic I doubt few can without a several hours of drilling. In the end, employers will either raise the wage to a level that they will never get into trouble, or they will have to hire more staff to do the detailed recording and complicated calculations. Either case it will mean additional administrative costs.

I pity our SMEs and wonder how many can take the double blow of an increased wage bill and additional administrative costs. Some will be thrown out of business, leading to more layoffs. I can foresee more disputes and more people lining up for welfare after Labour Day.

The spirit of minimum wage legislation is to ensure people can earn a decent living for a day’s work, and it does not require very complex stipulations to fulfill that objective. Making it difficult will only be counterproductive, with the employers, the employees, the government and the public all losing out as a result. The only gain is a bureaucratic one of being politically correct. The officials concerned will not be blamed for not thinking it through.

Let us for a change resort to some common sense and make it simple so that both the employers and the employees can easily find out that their agreed wages are in compliance with the new legislation. As a result there will be fewer disputes, nobody earns less than before and everybody is happy. That is what this legislation is all about.

If people on the whole are happy and satisfied, it will be difficult for our politicians to stir up trouble and in the end no officials will be blamed. So instead of acting politically correct for self-protection, our officials should wise up, try to make the legislation work and make people happy and satisfied for a change.