Employers in Hong Kong allowed to fire unvaccinated staff

A government bill has been passed to allow employers to sack workers who refuse to receive a COVID-19 vaccination without a reasonable excuse.
By: | June 20, 2022

Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) approved the change to the Employment Ordinance, which will now state that it is a “valid reason” for an employer to dismiss a worker – or change the terms of the employment contract – if they refuse to present proof of vaccination. A failure to comply with a legitimate vaccination request would be deemed as “incapable of performing work” under the new legislation.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare of Hong Kong Law Chi-kwong told the legislature that the amendment set out that employers must issue a written notice on any vaccination requirement, though it does not specify the format of the notice. Employers could therefore issue the written notice via email, the minister said. 

The approved amendment also enables employees who are absent from work owing to their compliance with COVID-19 rules to claim sick leave. People who are subject to a quarantine order, overnight lockdown order or compulsory testing notice are also included.

It would amount to “unreasonable dismissal” if an employer fired a worker on those grounds, and workers would be able to apply for compensation. 

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Law said that, during the pandemic, residents who were placed under COVID-related orders did not always receive a medical certificate, which prevented them from meeting the requirement for claiming sick leave, according to Hong Kong Free Press.