Expats in Hong Kong on lower packages than counterparts in mainland China, study finds

Hong Kong's expatriates have the fifth most-generous employment packages in the Asia-Pacific region, an annual study has shown, putting the city one place behind the mainland.

The typical expat middle-manager in the city received HK$2.1 million in pay and benefits, according to a survey of 320 multinational organisations and data for 10,000 staff collected by human resources consultancy ECA International last year. The total includes salaries, tax allowances and other benefits.

The total was down from HK$2.12 million in 2013, reflecting a fall of between 2 and 3 per cent in rents said Lee Quane, ECA's regional director for Asia. More companies had also chosen to bring expat pay in line with the salaries of local staff.

Expat packages on the mainland, especially Beijing and Shanghai, first overtook Hong Kong in 2013 and the gap has widened slightly: the typical expatriate north of the border collects a HK$2.14 million package.

"The yuan has appreciated against the US dollar. Housing costs have increased 5 per cent year-on-year in Shanghai or Beijing," Quane explained. "It is also a challenge to attract talents due to the liveability issues, especially air pollution.
Not all Chinese cities were so expensive; if only second-tier cities were considered "mainland China would appear towards the bottom of the regional ranking".

Companies should offer "hardship allowances" to lure staff to the mainland, Quane said. In Hong Kong, however, such allowances are not necessary.
Although many factors would affect a company's decision on where to base staff, Quane said the slightly lower costs in Hong Kong would work in the city's favour. And the political uncertainty in the wake of last year's Occupy protests had absolutely no impact on the city's attractiveness, Quane added.

Japan remained the costliest place in Asia to employ expatriates, with the typical package costing US$375,289 - more than US$100,000 more than in Hong Kong or mainland China. Total compensation was 20 per cent higher than in second-placed Australia and 50 per cent more than in Pakistan, the cheapest of the 15 Asian economies studied.

Regional rival Singapore ranked two places behind Hong Kong in seventh. While salaries in the city state were higher, overall packages were cheaper due to lower housing costs.

Published http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/1788747/expats-hong-kong-lower-packages-counterparts-mainland-china



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