Some unvaccinated employees face discrimination in Hong Kong

Employees who face discrimination if they refused to be vaccinated may be able to mount a legal challenge, depending if it is "reasonable or necessary."
By: | June 15, 2021

Ricky Chu, head of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) – Hong Kong’s anti-discrimination watchdog, said employees who are denied bonuses or face other forms of discrimination due to their refusal to be inoculated against COVID-19 may have a legal case for discrimination.

His comments came after the Hong Kong Jockey Club reportedly told employees at the administrative and assistant administrative level that they should get vaccinated by the end of August or risk having their discretionary bonuses “significantly affected”. 

In the same vein, The Peninsula Hong Kong hotel has also urged staff to get inoculated, saying it may need to consider staff layoffs if the vaccination rate among staff does not reach a target of 70% before July. 

Chu said that if a hotel lays off employees due to economic losses, then it would be a labour issue rather than one of discrimination. However, if an employer lays off unvaccinated staff across the board, it is more difficult for that employer to show that their action is reasonable and necessary. 

Trade union representative Wong Yu-loy has criticised Chu for sending the wrong message by suggesting that treating unvaccinated staff differently does not constitute discrimination, as long as employers deem it reasonable and necessary. 

READ: Hong Kong rolls out vaccination leave for civil servants

Wong said it should be up to the individual to decide whether or not to get vaccinated – some people have doubts, while others are medically not suitable. Employers should adopt an understanding attitude and should not use coercion, according to Apple Daily.