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COVID-19: Sickness Allowance and Employment Protection

The Employment (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 (Amendment Ordinance) came into operation on 17 June 2022. It strengthens the protection of the employment rights and benefits of employees when they are absent from work due to their compliance with a specific anti-epidemic requirement with a movement restriction.

From 17 June 2022 onwards, apart from a day on which an employee is absent from work by reason of his/her being unfit due to sickness or injury, a sickness day under the Employment Ordinance (EO) also includes a day on which an employee is absent from work by reason of his/her compliance with a specific anti-epidemic requirement with a movement restriction (e.g. isolation order). Employers are required to grant sickness allowance to eligible employees who can produce relevant proof. Furthermore, it is not a valid reason under EO for the employee to be dismissed or to have his/her terms of the employment contract be varied by the employer because of his/her absence from work due to his/her compliance with the relevant restriction. The employee concerned may claim for remedies for the unreasonable dismissal or the unreasonable variation of the terms of the employment contract against the employer in accordance with EO. The Amendment Ordinance also makes clear their respective obligations and rights when employers request their employees for COVID19 vaccination. For details, please refer to Chapter 5: Sickness Allowance and Chapter 10: Employment Protection of the “A Concise Guide to the Employment Ordinance”.

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