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Registration of Construction Workers

The relevant sections of the Construction Workers Registration Ordinance (Cap. 583) (the "Ordinance") setting up the registration system of construction workers took effect from 29 December 2005. In essence, the registration system requires construction workers to be registered and to pass different levels of trade tests and obtain other relevant qualifications in order to be registered as skilled workers, semi-skilled workers or general workers in the relevant trades (Section 40). The registration will be renewed once everyone to four years (Section 44). Transitional arrangements are provided under the Ordinance for workers with more than two to six years' experience to register as semi-skilled or skilled workers (provisional) respectively with a transitional period of three years for them to pass the relevant trade tests to become registered workers.

The registration will be conducted in four periods over the next eight months. Construction workers should apply for registration within the designated period according to their birth months.

After the expiry of the registration period in end August 2006, the prohibition provisions under the Ordinance will come into operation and employers shall only employ registered construction workers for carrying out construction work. Pursuant to Section 3 of the Ordinance, a person shall not personally carry out on a construction site construction work unless the person is a registered construction worker under the Ordinance. A registered construction worker, however, may personally carry out on a construction site construction work that involves another trade provided that he is under the instruction and supervision of a registered skilled or semiskilled worker for the trade as provided for under Section 4 of the Ordinance.

Each registered construction worker will be issued a registration smart card valid for three years. The worker's photograph, registered trades, and validity period will be printed on the smart card. Relevant registration details of the card holder will be stored electronically in the chip in the smart card. When entering a construction site, construction workers should produce their smart cards for verification and for recording site attendance by a card reading system.

As discussed in our article in the April 2003 issue on the Construction Workers Registration Bill, the primary advantage of having this registration system is quality control. The registration system ensures that construction works are carried out by skilled workers of controlled quality which in turn should enhance the quality of the construction works executed by them. It will also provide useful data for the future planning and training of construction workers. The registration system is also said to be able to raise the status of construction workers and foster a "quality culture" in the construction industry.

Besides quality, there are other advantages of setting up the system. The hiring of illegal workers is always a problem on construction sites and with the introduction of the smart registration card for entry to the construction site, the situation will improve. The smart card system also helps create a set of attendance records for each worker on site which will reduce the number of wage disputes between contractors and workers that are commonplace in Hong Kong.

Lovells Newsletter
January 2006

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