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Employees who can’t work for Covid reasons should get sickness allowance

26 February 2022

By The SUN


The amendment to the Ordinance should benefit even foreign domestic helpers

The government has filed an amendment to the Employment Ordinance ordering employers to pay sickness allowance to eligible employees who fail to report for work due to reasons related to Covid-19.

This should include workers who are subject to a lockdown or compulsory testing notice, and those who have to spend time in isolation after contracting Covid-19 or were classified as close contacts of an infected person.


The amendment also makes it clear that dismissing an employee due to absence from work because of restrictions on movements related to Covid-19 is considered as unreasonable dismissal.

Under the Labour Ordinance, an employer who dismisses a sick employee is committing an offence and could be fined a maximum of $100,000. The employer could also face prosecution under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance.

Pindutin para sa detalye

At the same time, the amendment also provides that dismissing an employee who refuses to get vaccinated, unless for sufficient medical reasons, constitutes a valid reason for dismissal under the Employment Ordinance.

Particular mention is made of those who fail to produce proof of vaccination after the employer requests for the same in compliance with the vaccine pass scheme under Cap599L.


But exemptions are granted to certain employees, like those who are pregnant or breastfeeding their babies.

The amendment carries a sunset clause, meaning it can be repealed when the pandemic is under control and vaccination is no longer a matter of public concern.

Press for details

"With the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our society, it is necessary to strike a reasonable balance between implementing anti-epidemic measures to protect public health and preserving employees' statutory rights and benefits," a statement issued by the government said.

It added that the bill will be submitted to the Legislative Council for scrutiny and once enacted and published in the Gazette, it will start being operational.


The coverage of the new law should also be deemed to apply to foreign domestic helpers, quite a number of whom have complained of being told they will not be paid any salary while they are isolating after contracting Covid-19.

Several migrant support organizations like the Mission for Migrant Workers have repeatedly reminded FDHs that they cannot be terminated if they get sick of Covid-19. They should also be paid a sickness allowance if they are entitled to it.

Under the Labour Ordinance, paid sickness days are accumulated at the rate of two days for each completed month of employment during the first 12 months, and four paid sickness days for each completed month of employment thereafter.

The daily rate of sickness allowance is a sum equivalent to four-fifths of the average daily wages earned by an employee in the 12-month period preceding the sickness day or the first sickness day (if more than 1 consecutive sickness day).

If an employee is employed for less than 12 months, the calculation shall be based on the shorter period.

For more information on this, please contact the Mission for Migrant Worker through its hotline, 9529 2326.




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