Hong Kong provides protection for workers under quarantine

A proposed amendment to the employment law will ensure that workers undergoing isolation or quarantine can enjoy sick leave.
By: | March 16, 2022

The bill to amend the Employment Ordinance will undergo its first and second reading at Legislative Council today.

The amendment will make it clear that if workers are absent from work due to their compliance with health restrictions, those will be deemed as sick leave under the Employment Ordinance. Allowance should be given to employees, and it will be “unreasonable dismissal” if employers fire them for it.

However, the same amendment will also allow employers to sack workers who cannot go to work due to their refusal to receive vaccination without reasonable medical excuses.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said during the 2003 SARS outbreak, health authorities issued sick leave certificates for those undergoing quarantine. However, when the pandemic broke out at the beginning of 2020, the government was of the view that compulsory quarantine did not equate to sickness.

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Mandatory quarantine notices could not serve the same purpose as sick leave certificates, and the government must amend the Employment Ordinance to solve the issue, legal experts told authorities. As such, Law has called on the LegCo to approve the amendment as soon as possible, according to The Standard.