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Labor law amended to include pandemic measures

17 June 2022


Absence from work due to pandemic requirements will now be covered by sickness allowance

Failure to get a vaccine can now get a person fired from their job in Hong Kong. But being absent from work because of anti-epidemic requirements such as getting tested for Covid or being quarantined will not be a reasonable ground for their dismissal.

These are among the new rules that took effect today with the inclusion of the ​Employment (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 in the Official Gazette.


The ordinance was approved by Legislatve Council last Wednesday (June 15).

Among its major provisions is that failure to comply with an employer’s legitimate vaccination request will be a “valid reason” for dismissal or revision of contract.

Under this amendment, the employee has 56 days to show proof of compliance with the vaccine requirement.

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Exempted from the amendment are pregnant and breastfeeding women, people who are medically exempted and those who had that specific illness in the last six months.

The new law also specifies that absence from work due to compliance with a requirement under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation (Cap 599A) or Prevention and Control of Disease (Compulsory Testing for Certain Persons) Regulation (Cap 599J) – such as an isolation order, a quarantine order or a testing requirement which restricts movement -- will not be a “valid reason” for dismissal or changes to the work contract.

With this provision, employers cannot use such absences as an excuse for not giving the 30-day notice, or payment in lieu of notice, when they terminate employees.

The new law also expands the definition of “sickness day” in the Employment Ordinance, which entitles workers to sickness allowance for each day of absence, to include each day on which an employee is absent from work because of such Cap 599 requirements.


In a statement, the Labour Department said, "The legislative amendments seek to reflect the policy intent so as to clarify the rights and obligations between employers and employees under the epidemic, and to strike an appropriate balance between protecting public health and preserving employees' rights and benefits. 

The new law can be found here:

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