SUBSCRIBE: Newsletter

Human Resources



Hong Kong salary increases drop for third year

Human Resources magazine and the HR Bulletin daily email newsletter:
Asia's only regional HR print and digital media brand.
Register for your FREE subscription now »


Pay rises drop for the third consecutive year with under 70% of Hong Kong employees expected to receive increases this year according to career portal jobsDB’s hiring, compensation and benefits survey. 

Although unemployment rates are near a 20 year low and the market is facing a shortage of talent in most industries the number of people receiving a salary increase has decreased from 90.6% in 2015 to 69.1% in 2018.

Of the employees who anticipate a salary increase this year, the report finds people can expect an average of 3.3% with less than half of them (48.3%) predicting a rise of more than 4%.

In addition, only 63% of employers offered performance-related bonuses in 2017, much lower than in 2016 (85%), whilst only 10% of them ensured that all their employees received their bonuses. The average size of bonuses in 2017 was 1.36 months of basic salary, representing a slight increase on the average of 1.28 months in 2016.

The following industries are expected to receive the highest pay rise and performance bonuses in 2018:

RANK Industries expected to receive the highest pay rises in 2018 AMOUNT
1 Accounting/Audit/Tax Services +4.9%
2 Engineering – Building, Civil, Construction/ Quantity Survey +4.6%
3 Engineering – Others +4.6%
4 Information Technology +3.5%
5 Engineering – Electrical/ Electronic/ Mechanical +3.4%


RANk Industries expected to receive the highest performance-related bonuses in 2018 AMOUNT
1 Architecture/ Building/ Construction 2 months
2 Financial services 1.9 months
3 Education 1.8 months
4 Accounting/ Audit/ Tax Services 1.7 months
5 Manufacturing 1.5 months


The report also looked at how much annual leave different seniority roles could expect this year.


Job level/seniority Days
Top/ Senior Management 16.4 days
Middle Management/ Non-managerial Professionals 14.0 days
Supervisory/ Officers 12.4 days
Clerical/ Frontline Staff. 11.4 days

The survey also suggests that nearly half of all employers offer other special leave, including marriage leave (57%), compassionate leave (54%), birthday leave (24%), study and examination leave (20%), more than three days of paternity leave (9%), family care leave (7%), menstrual leave (5%), and more than 10 weeks of maternity leave (5%).

Other employee benefits include;

Benefits 2017 2018
 Company activities/events extended to family members 25% 11%
Remote working 28% 12%
 Medical insurance for employees’ family members 25% 7%


“While there is a slight economic growth this year, companies who are planning to lower the number of pay rises or bonuses they award run the risk of alienating employees. Those in junior, mid-level or frontline positions, in particular, are likely to feel negatively towards employers that they see gaining in revenue without sharing the rewards,” said Isaac Shao, Country Manager of Jobs DB Hong Kong Limited in a statement.

“With an increasing number of companies rolling out new special leave options along with other employee benefits, employers might also try to enhance the sense of belonging amongst their employees through areas outside of salary – this can particularly help SMEs to create a positive reputation and attract talent. On the other hand, large companies can also leverage new benefits to demonstrate that they are able to keep up with market standards and that they care about their staff, and prevent talent from turning to other companies with better benefits,” said Shao.

ALSO READ: Are you underpaid? Hong Kong salary checklist 2018

HR Masterclass Series: We're going virtual! New courses, new formats!
Review the 2020 masterclasses here »

Read More News